Civic meet minus chief

Kalimpong, May 29: Fourteen councillors of the Kalimpong Municipality owing allegiance to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today went ahead and held a meeting of the civic board which the chairman, C. K. Kumai, had cancelled yesterday.

Kumai, a GNLF leader, had initially called the meeting following a request from the Morcha councillors. Yesterday, Kumai claimed that he had to cancel the meeting following death threats from one of them.

Morcha councillors have denied Kumai’s claims.

“We were all present in his chamber on May 26 when the threat was supposed to have been made. In fact, we had a cordial meeting and Kumai even offered us lunch,” said Norden Lama, councillor of Ward 7 and a member of the Morcha core committee.

Asked how they could hold the meeting without Kumai, Lama said the municipal rules stipulate that when the majority of councillors seeks a board meeting, the chairman has no other option but to call one. Kalimpong Municipality has 23 councillors, of whom 14 are with the Morcha.

“We had asked for the meeting to authorise the chairman to sign salary cheques of the municipal staff. This was necessary because in an earlier meeting, the majority of councillors had barred Kumai from exercising his official powers without the consent of the board,” Lama added.

The chairman is the only authority who can sign the salary cheques of civic employees. Without Kumai’s signature, employees of the municipality will not get their salaries for June.

In the morning, Morcha supporters demonstrated in front of the municipal office, demanding Kumai’s resignation. They also pasted posters on the building against the GNLF leader and marched through the town.

Kumai could not be reached for his reaction on today’s developments. He has, however, repeatedly said he would not resign from his post under duress.

The GNLF leader had defeated an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against him on January 24 this year. The rule says another no-trust motion can only be tabled after six months from that date.

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