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Deb denies facing Didi rap


North Bengal development minister and Darjeeling district Trinamul Congress president Gautam Deb on Sunday denied facing the ire of chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the party&’s poor performance in the recent Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections. Media reports said the minister was given the dressing-down in a party meeting in Kolkata on Saturday.

“A party MP had informed me on Saturday that some news channels were showing this. I saw the media reports on Sunday. I had a talk with the party president over the issue. Nothing of the sort happened in the meeting. I met the CM two times after the civic poll results and she also met the party councillors of SMC in Siliguri,” Mr Deb said here on Sunday.

It may be mentioned that in the SMC elections, TMC won 17 of the 47 seats, seven short of the majority required to form the civic board. The Left Front, which secured 23 seats, formed the board with support from an independent councillor.

Party sources said factionalism, arrogance of a section of leaders, and the failure to project a mayoral candidate cost the Trinamul Congress dearly in the polls. Asked about SMC mayor Asok Bhattacharya&’s statement on not meeting Mr Deb at Uttarkanya on 8 June after his bitter experience in Kolkata on 27 May, Mr Deb said that there was an official procedure to communicate with him.

“I do not want to go into any controversy on this issue. My personal secretary (PS) had informed me about his letter seeking the appointment. I had prior engagements till 4 June. There will be a programme on environment day, a students’ felicitation programme on 6 June and 7 June is a Sunday, so the appointment was fixed for 8 June at Uttarkanya. The PS is a WBCS officer and the official communications are made through the post and this is the standard procedure. Now how have I insulted him?” Mr Deb said. Mr Bhattacharya had said it was unfortunate the PS to the minister had replied to his letter seeking an appointment and not the minister himself.