West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim on Monday became the first Muslim since independence to be elected as the Kolkata mayor. A controversial figure in his own right, Firhad Hakim had once stoked controversy by referring to city’s Muslim majority area, Metiabruz as ‘Mini Pakistan’.
Despite the fact that Hakim already holds the portfolio of Municipal affairs, the position of Kolkata city’s mayor has a special significance and honor attached with it. The chair was once graced by the likes of Chittatanjan Das, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Bidhan Chandra Roy.
Hakim secured 121 votes in the 144-member Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to win the mayoral election. BJP’s Meena Devi Purohit bagged five votes, while 12 Left Front and two Congress councillors had boycotted the election.
The result of the election, conducted through secret ballots, was announced by the civic body’s municipal secretary, Harihar Prasad Mondal. It was necessitated following the resignation of Sovan Chatterjee from the post on November 22.
The TMC has 122 seats in the KMC House, the Left Front 14, the BJP five, the Congress two, while one seat is vacant. Sources said one TMC councillor gave the election a miss due to ill-health.
After being elected the 29th mayor of the city since independence, Hakim said he should be known by his work and not by his religion and spelt out various development initiatives.
“I will work for the development and beautification of the city. I will work towards making the city pollution-free,” he said.
Hakim said the people would get tax rebates if they took up efforts to plant trees in their houses. He also stressed on waste management and recycling to keep the city clean.
The new mayor also announced a WhatsApp number, asking the citizens to inform about their problems and come up with suggestions to improve the municipal services.
Steps would be taken to ensure that there was no waterlogging in the city during heavy rainfall, he said.
Last week, CPI(M) councillor Bilquis Begum had moved the Calcutta High Court challenging Hakim’s candidature in the mayoral polls on the ground that he was not a councillor from any ward of the civic body. The high court had on Friday refused to stay the election.
Hakim, was chosen as the mayor designate by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) councillors on November 22 in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Talking to media after the announcement of the poll results, Hakim’s predecessor Chatterjee extended his best wishes to the new mayor. “I am sure the KMC will function well under the leadership of the new mayor,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)