What Forced Mamata Banerjee To Sack Her Once Trusted Loyalist Partha Chatterjee | Explained

Partha Chatterjee, 69, was once a trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee, who held three portfolios - commerce and enterprise, industry, information technology and electronics - in her cabinet.

By Aalok Sensharma
Updated: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 10:36 AM IST
Minute Read
What Forced Mamata Banerjee To Sack Her Once Trusted Loyalist Partha Chatterjee | Explained
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Partha Chatterjee during an election rally ahead of the 2021 assembly polls. (Photo: ANI)

West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee on Thursday was sacked by Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee, days after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the school jobs scam case. Soon after Banerjee's action, his nephew Abhishek removed Chatterjee from all party posts and suspended him from the party.

"I have relieved him [Partha] because my party is a very strict party. If someone thinks that they can change perception [about TMC] by showing this, they are wrong," Banerjee was quoted as saying by India Today.

Chatterjee, 69, was once a trusted lieutenant of Banerjee, who held three portfolios - commerce and enterprise, industry, information technology and electronics - in her cabinet. However, since his arrest by the ED, Banerjee kept herself at a distance from Chatterjee.

Chatterjee, after his arrest, had also tried to call Banerjee thrice but didn't get a response. Later, the TMC chief said she doesn't mind "if anyone is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment", indicating that Chatterjee will have to battle the ED on his own.

However, this has left people pondering why Banerjee distanced herself from Chatterjee all of a sudden. According to reports, Chatterjee's arrest was harming Banerjee's image as an anti-corruption leader.

Since her rise in West Bengal politics, Banerjee has portrayed herself as an honest and corruption-free leader, but ED's crackdown on Chatterjee was hurting her image.

Besides, there were calls inside the TMC that action must be taken against Chatterjee. Most notably, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh had demanded Chatterjee's ouster from the cabinet and expulsion from the party.

"Partha Chatterjee should be removed from ministry and all party posts immediately. He should be expelled. If this statement is considered wrong, the party has every right to remove me from all posts. I shall continue as a soldier of @AITCofficial (TMC), he had tweeted earlier.

A report by Hindustan Times has also claimed that Chatterjee's steady rise in the TMC also left his colleagues in envy.

"Chatterjee used to take pride in that. He suffered his first setback last year when CBI questioned him in the I-Core chit fund scam that the agency has been probing since 2014. This somehow enthused his rivals in the party," the English daily quoted a TMC leader as saying.

Besides, this also gave the opposition parties a chance to attack Banerjee and her government. Notably, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mithun Chakraborty recently claimed that 38 TMC MLAs are in touch with it and Chatterjee's scam gave it a chance to break Banerjee's party.

However, by sacking Chatterjee, Banerjee - who is preparing to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections - has given a clear message that wants to remain clean.

"TMC is the party of the people, for the people, and by the people. We cannot betray our people. We needed a little time to make this decision. There is no party in this country that makes a decision within six days. We are giving the benefit of doubt to the people. We haven’t waited for the court verdict," Abhishek Banerjee said on Thursday.

"There will be zero tolerance for corruption. We are putting this on record. The CM has taken the decision at the administration level, and we have decided at the party level. We want the agency to complete the investigation in a time-bound manner," he added.

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