KOLKATA: Clearly rattled by the treasure trove unearthed at the house of Arpita Mukherjee, a close associate of Commerce and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is walking on eggshells.
More than the BJP – which was chanting ‘Ghotala Hobe’ on Thursday – she is worried about the public perception which is feeding on the frenzied media coverage of the alleged public loot.
To begin with, keen to underscore that she has no reason to shield Partha, she has removed him from his cabinet post; he has been also stripped of his party portfolios.
Still, an extremely wary Mamata refused to take Chatterjee’s name and merely said: “I have removed someone (Chatterjee) from the cabinet. Ours is a strict party. If anyone thinks that they can malign TMC, it won’t be tolerated.” (All the departments held by Chatterjee will be with the Chief Minister now).
Partha was not just a minister. He was also the secretary general of the party’s state unit and a member of the party's disciplinary committee. Any action against him would have a cascading effect down the party rank and file.
The BJP, not the one to miss out on an opportunity like this, lost no time in taking out a protest rally in Kolkata and raising the slogan ‘Ghotala Hobe,’ a take-off on CM Mamata’s ‘Khela Hobe.’ The party demanded her immediate resignation with actor and BJP leader Mithun Chakraborty suggesting that others could be involved in the ‘loot.’ Partha and his associate Arpita alone could not have managed such a large amount of black money, he pointed out. On Thursday, the maverick actor had claimed that over three dozen TMC MLAs were in touch with the BJP, even as he warned of a Maharashtra-like coup in the eastern state.
In an interesting sidelight, miscreants broke into the farmhouse of Chatterjee at Baruipur in the wee hours on Thursday and looted the premises of valuables and artefacts. According to eye-witnesses the miscreants even threatened them, asking them to desist from intervening or raising an alert.