Kolkata: The drama that unfolded a year ago has come to a full circle today. Senior Trinamool leader Sovan Chatterjee has resigned as a minister from Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet and also as the Mayor of Kolkata.
Chatterjee was the minister for housing and fire services department. Environment department was snatched away from him a few months ago.
The resignation, which came late this afternoon, was preceded by Chatterjee being rebuked by the Chief Minister twice during the day ~ first in the state Assembly and then at the state secretariat Nabanna.
Government sources said that the Chief Minister was very upset over Chatterjee’s dereliction of duties owing his proximity with college teacher Baisakhi Banerjee. She had cautioned him on this in the past but to no avail.
Today in the first half, the Chief Minister first pulled up Chatterjee in Speaker Biman Banerjee’s room and then in her chamber in the Assembly. The discussion came to a point that the CM reportedly asked him to choose either the ministerial role or Baisakhi Banerjee.
The tension that sparked off in the Assembly lingered in the state secretariat. In the afternoon, the Chief Minister was seen speaking to Chatterjee angrily during an event of the fire services department at Nabanna.
Soon after this, Chatterjee went to his chamber on Nabanna second floor and then went to Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on the 14th floor around 4.15 pm. There he submitted his resignation letter both as minister and Mayor to CMO’s principal secretary, Gautam Sanyal.
The Chief Minister accepted his resignation readily. She later told reporters that Chatterjee had tendered resignation 4-5 times in the past but on every occasion she had counselled him. “If someone is adamant what can we do about it? I have accepted his resignation today,” she said.
The CM has asked urban development minister Firhad Hakim to look after the two departments vacated by Chatterjee. As regards Kolkata Mayor, Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Khalil Ahmed will dispense the duties until a new Mayor is picked up by the Trinamool.
It was in November last year that Chatterjee filed a divorce suit against wife Ratna Chatterjee. Then in March this year, he publicly admitted that Baisakhi Banerjee is his “family friend” and Banerjee also reciprocated saying that she will stand by him till her last breath.
As Chatterjee’s personal life became murkier, the Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo cautioned him several times in the past few months both in Cabinet meetings and party meetings.
In fact, as a signal that party will not hesitate to do away with him if he does not mend his ways, Chatterjee was stripped of the environment minister portfolio a few months ago and then last month he was removed as Trinamool South 24-Parganas district president.
But no amount of caution worked on the Trinamool chief’s one-time close aide and today, he has resigned both as minister and Mayor.
Reacting to the development, wife Ratna Chatterjee, with whom the divorce suit is yet to be finalised, said that today she is the one in Kolkata who is pained the most.
“I have never imagined in my worst fears that Sovan Chatterjee will lose everything like this. He has lost everything just because of a woman. Politics was once his lifeline and today? I cannot bear his downfall,” she has said.