Partha Chatterjee has been removed from all party posts and he has been suspended till the investigation against him is over, said Trinamool Congress’ national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. Banerjee was speaking at a press conference after the party’s disciplinary meet, which was held to decide the future of Chatterjee within the party, moments after he was sacked from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet. “We have taken this decision finally after going through the circumstantial evidences that have come before us, and we have decided to give the benefit of doubt to the people…we are the only party to sack a member within a week,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee said that while the party doesn’t tolerate corruption, he claimed that if Chatterjee would have joined BJP, his situation wouldn’t have been the same. “Though we have a lot of questions on the fairness of the probe against Chatterjee, we want to know how so much of black money was being unearthed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the demonetisation drive to fight against the menace. Arpita Mukherjee is not connected with the party. She might have shared the stage with our CM. But the CM shares stage with many people. You can’t connect that to the party. In the same way, even PM Modi has been on the same picture with fugitive Nirav Modi,” said Banerjee at the presser.
Under pressure from the opposition over Partha Chatterjee’s arrest in connection with the Bengal teachers’ recruitment scam, the Trinamool Congress on Thursday sacked the TMC minister from Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet with immediate effect. Chatterjee was relieved of his duties as Minister in-charge for the Ministry for Industry, Commerce and Enterprise, Ministry for Information Technology and Electronics and Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs with effect from July 28, a notification issued by the state government read. Soon after the announcement, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared that she will be taking over the charge of Chatterjee’s portfolios.
The development comes on a day when other TMC leaders, including party’s general secretary Kunal Ghosh, urged the party to expel Partha Chatterjee from the cabinet and strip him of all his party posts. The development came a day after another Rs 28 crore in cash was seized by the Enforcement Directorate from Chatterjee’s aide Arpita Mukherjee’s flat at Kolkata’s Belgharia. At least Rs 50 crore in cash has been recovered from Mukherjee’s properties so far.
Since Chatterjee’s arrest last week, the party had maintained that the money recovered from his aide’s house is nowhere connected to the party. Even, Mamata Banerjee had stated that the party will only take action against Chatterjee if he is convicted by the courts. She said that if he was responsible, then she wouldn’t mind if Chatterjee was sentenced to life. However, the situation changed drastically today, after several top TMC leaders including Kunal Ghosh and Debangshu Bhattacharya called for the removal of Chatterjee. Soon after Ghosh’s damning tweet against his party colleague Chatterjee, the party called a disciplinary meet to decide Chatterjee’s future in the party. Chatterjee and Bengal CM Banerjee goes way back since the inception of the party. But after six days of his arrest, pressure was building up on Banerjee to let go Chatterjee from her cabinet. The negative perception in the state after mountains of cash, suspected to be proceeds of the teachers’ recruitment scam, have also forced Banerjee’s hand.