Kolkata: In a dramatic twist heavyweight Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee on Tuesday quit his ministership of two key departments: fire and emergency services and housing departments in rebellion within few hours of a fracas with chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the Assembly over his performance and controversy in his personal life.
The Trinamul Congress supremo has accepted his resignation which was sent to Raj Bhavan also for approval. She was so furious that she also ordered him to quit the city mayor’s post by Wednesday. Sources revealed that Mr Chatterjee has no other option but to follow her decision only.
Municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, known among his cabinet colleagues for his proximity to Ms Banerjee, has replaced Mr Chatterjee to look after the two departments. Meanwhile, municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed, an IAS officer, will look after the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) till the new mayor's appointment.
Asked about Mr Chatterjee going to resign Member, Mayor-in-Council (Health) Atin Ghosh said in the evening, “I came to know of it from the media as I was busy in a meeting. The KMC will continue to function according to the municipal act in a democratic structure. Any gap will be filled on the party's order at the right time.”
This is the first time when a senior minister from the Trinamul resigned following a direct clash with Ms Banerjee during her rule. Mr Chatterjee, who has been in the news for the past one year over his separation battle with his wife Ratna Chatterjee for a college professor: Baishakhi Banerjee, earlier wanted to resign four times.
But the chief minister rejected his pleas while advising him to concentrate on running his departments instead of indulging in romance which caused a major embarrassment to the party as his problems in personal life became public with the court battle with his wife.
Trinamul insiders indicated that Ms Banerjee’s advice however went in vain. Mr Chatterjee, who once was given three portfolios by the chief minister, started losing his posts in the party and government soon. His wings were clipped earlier when the environment department was snatched from him while his security ring was trimmed.
The relation between Mr Chatterjee and the Trinamul supremo however hit an all-time low on Tuesday afternoon when Ms Banerjee summoned him to Speaker Biman Banerjee’s chamber at the Assembly for a talk after the question hour was over at the House.
The chief minister was displeased over his reply to an Opposition MLA’s question about a housing department, sources disclosed. As Mr Chatterjee went to the chamber, the Trinamul supremo pointed out that he was more busy in shopping than paying attention to his departmental works. Mr Chatterjee countered her.
He asked the chief minister if she meant the shopping was for Baishakhi, sources elaborated adding that Ms Banerjee then asked him to choose either his political life or personal life. Mr Chatterjee replied her that he was ready to quit his posts as his need in the party has ended.