Shobhan Chatterjee not only brazened out his affair with Baisakhi Banerjee at the cost of his marriage but also dared to answer chief minister Mamata Banerjee after carelessly dealing with a question from the opposition in the Assembly. The inevitable resignation had to follow
Kolkata: Shobhan Chatterjee, who has resigned from both the posts of Kolkata mayor and minister, should have taken chief minister Mamata Banerjee's multiple warnings seriously. On Tuesday, his decade-long relationship with Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to an abrupt end, thanks to the passion that blinded the ‘ousted’ Kolkata mayor.
Banerjee had had enough. The opposition asked the TMC government about a residential project which was under the jurisdiction of housing affairs ministry that Chatterjee was heading. The answer provided by Chatterjee was figuratively wrong, which was corrected by none lesser than the chief minister on the floor of the Bengal Assembly.
Thereafter, the chief minister summoned Chatterjee at the Speaker’s office. It's learned that the chief minister made a snide remark about Chatterjee's affair in front of many. Gossips about the affair had for some time been the talk of the town. Anandabazar Patrika quoted the chief minister as saying, “Are you doing your work or busy buying earrings?”
The former Kolkata mayor asked whether the chief minister was alluding to his girlfriend. Those who are aware of inner party working style of TMC know when Banerjee is upset, no leader, howsoever big in stature, asks a counter-question. That is construed as indiscipline. Chatterjee had violated the tacit code.
Chatterjee attends Assembly
Answers a question wrong
CM Banerjee summons him to Speaker’s office
CM ridicules Chatterjee
CM issues 'choose job or affair' warning
Chatterjee leaves and resigns
What happened next was the chief minister asking him to choose between his affair and his job — a scene straight out of a Bollywood potboiler of the 1990s. Chatterjee left the Speaker Biman Banerjee's cabin in a rush, publicly humiliated. Within hours, he submitted his resignation.
But this is not the first time Chatterjee had had a tiff with the chief minister over his affair with Baisakhi Banerjee. TMC sources say, one leader has been specifically after Chatterjee. So much so, the movement of the 'lovebirds' was tracked. In fact, in one of the meetings, the chief minister told Shobhan she was in possession of photos of the two.
Speaking to reporters, the chief minister has been extremely casual about it, "Shobhan (Chatterjee) has resigned. He has done it before as well. Right now, the Assembly is in session. Tomorrow is a holiday. It will resume the day after. He has been asked to resign from the post of mayor as well." TMC sources told MyNation this time the resignation won't be put on hold.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh was, however, not impressed. Because of the chief minister, Chatterjee continued this far, he said.
But who is the woman at the epicentre of the storm? Baisakhi Banerjee started her career as an activist of the student union of TMC, Trinamool Chhatra Parishad, when she was in college. She was one of the leading faces, thanks to her proximity with Partha Chatterjee, the state education minister. Earlier, Baisakhi, in many interviews, admitted to her close proximity with Partha.
Soon, equations changed as Chatterjee gave her an important position in significant municipal committees, using his power as the Kolkata mayor. The new equation turned into an affair, the news of which reached not only the ears of the chief minister but also Chatterjee's wife. Chatterjee’s father-in-law, himself a powerful TMC leader, used his clout to clip the son-in-law’s wings. But Chatterjee was ready to ‘sacrifice’ his marriage; his affair continued unabated.
Chatterjee's gradual rise and abrupt fall is something no one from the TMC wants to talk about. Privately, many jokes about it whereas some seem happy with the turn of events. But the affair that cost a ministerial post and the all-important Kolkata mayor’s post seems to have survived all odds.
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Last Updated Nov 21, 2018, 4:37 PM IST