The over-five-decade-long political career of senior TMC leader Partha Chatterjee seems to have received a huge jolt with the Enforcement Directorate arresting him on Saturday in connection with its investigation into the alleged school jobs scam in West Bengal.
Chatterjee, 69, who presently holds the industry and state parliamentary affairs portfolios of the Mamata Banerjee government, was the education minister from 2014 to 2021, during which the alleged irregularities in teacher recruitment occurred.
He stepped into politics as a leader of Congress students’ wing – Chatra Parishad – in the late sixties during his college years, inspired by then firebrand youth leaders Subrata Mukherjee and Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.
His political career halted after he took up a high-profile corporate job in the mid-seventies but he kept in touch with then Congress leaders.
Chatterjee decided to take a plunge into active politics after Banerjee broke away from the Congress and formed the TMC on January 1, 1998.
He went on to win from the Behala Paschim Assembly constituency for five consecutive terms since 2001 on a TMC ticket.
Chatterjee’s high point in his political career came in 2006 when he was appointed as the leader of the TMC party in the assembly and later leader of the opposition.
As Banerjee fought against the mighty Left Front regime on the streets of Bengal on the issue of forcible land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram, Chatterjee became the voice of the opposition in the assembly.
Chatterjee was at the forefront when his party took on then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in the assembly on the issues of land acquisitions.
During that period in 2007, he was appointed as TMC’s secretary-general by Banerjee.
After the party came to power four years later, he was given charge of industry and parliamentary affairs.
However, in a cabinet reshuffle in 2014, he was removed from the industry department and entrusted with the responsibility of education.
Considered a loyalist of the party supremo, Chatterjee, along with a few others, was at the forefront in leading the old guards during the alleged inner-party struggle between the young brigade and the veterans that broke out in the TMC in January-February this year.
After the party returned to power for the third consecutive time in 2021, he was given the charge of industry and parliamentary affairs departments.
He is known as an affable and approachable leader in political circles.
His name had also cropped up in a Ponzi scheme, which was being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He has, however, denied the allegations as politically motivated.
The Trinamool Congress secretary general was arrested by the ED after around 26 hours of grilling in his residence since Friday morning in connection with its probe into the alleged school jobs scam.
He was later produced before a judge in the Bankshall court here and sent to the ED custody for two days.