West Bengal minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) leader Firhad Hakim has resigned as the chairman of Kolkata Municipal Corporation after the Election Commission’s advice on political appointees to civic bodies.
Firhad Hakim is contesting in the West Bengal assembly election from the Kolkata Port constituency.
Earlier on 20 March, the Election Commission had directed to “temporarily restrain” political appointees, who are holding the office of administrators, the head of the board of administrators in the municipal corporations of West Bengal on an appointment basis after the end of their elected term, from participating in and exercising the functions of the board during the period the Model Code of Conduct is in force. This is why Firhad Hakim, like others holding the post of the head of municipal bodies across the state, had to step down.
The commission had ordered that a committee headed by the chief secretary of West Bengal and principal secretary in the urban development ministry and principal secretary of the personnel department as members shall appoint the government officials, keeping in view the EC’s instructions to discharge the functions of the administrators, the head of the board of administrators, as the case may be, during the period that the Model Code of Conduct is in force.
It is expected of the chief secretary to ensure a level playing field in all municipal bodies in West Bengal through rigorous reviews of their decisions that can disturb the level playing field, the EC said, asking the chief secretary to send a compliance report by 10 AM today.
In the 2011 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, Hakim won from the Kolkata Port constituency as a candidate of the All India Trinamool Congress. He received 63,866 votes and defeated his nearest rival Moinuddin Shams of the All India Forward Bloc by a margin of 25,033 votes. Subsequently, he became the Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs in the first Mamata Banerjee cabinet.
In January 2019, it was announced that Hakim would contest ward no. 82 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. In a by-election, he won the ward and defeated his nearest rival Jiban Sen of the Bharatiya Janata Party by a margin of 13,987 votes; Hakim received 16,564 votes. The term of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation expired on 7 May 2020, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, elections couldn’t be held on time to elect the new councillors of the KMC and was delayed. On 8 May 2020, Hakim was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Administrators of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly will be held in eight phases starting from 27 March with the final round of voting taking place on 29 April. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.