Kalimpong, July 1: The subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, P.T. Sherpa, took over as the drawing and disbursing officer of the town’s municipality today in a development that effectively renders civic chairman C.K. Kumai powerless.
In a letter addressed to Darjeeling district magistrate Rajesh Pandey, the deputy secretary of the municipality affairs department, B.C. Ghorui, said the SDO would take over the dual charge for “drawing and disbursing the arrears, if any, and current salaries payable to the employees of Kalimpong Municipality”.
The SDO has also been authorised to incur expenditure from the municipal fund for the purpose of running the day-to-day activities of the municipality.
Observers said the decision was forced on the government because of the continuing impasse in the municipality ever since the GNLF board was reduced to a minority following the defection of the majority of its councillors to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. This happened weeks after Kumai defeated a no-trust motion tabled against his board on January 24. A fresh floor test could not take place immediately because the municipality rules stipulate that another no-confidence motion can be tabled only after six months from the last one.
The Morcha, however, refused to let Kumai function as the chairman on the grounds that he had lost the moral right to do so.
Kumai on his part played out a farce of sorts last month when he resigned as the chairman only to take back the letter the next day.
In the 23-member board, the Morcha enjoys the support of 14 members, while the rest are with the GNLF members.
Kumai was not available for comment on the day’s development. “We will comment after reading the letter of the deputy secretary,” said a senior Morcha leader.