West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, arrested last week over alleged irregularities in recruitment of teachers, could lose all his portfolios, according to sources.
The minister has been under the spotlight for the past one week as images of heaps of cash and jewellery emerged from two houses belonging to his close aide Arpita Mukherjee.
The Trinamool Congress, which initially said that it would not remove him as a minister till he was proven guilty, is now considering action as the party doesn’t want to be seen as defending alleged corruption, especially after images of heaps have currency notes have gone viral. The party is likely to take action to protect its image, sources said.
Sources said Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee chaired a meeting with top party leader at 2.30 pm to discuss that next step. Also, Trinamool MP and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee will hold a meeting of the party’s disciplinary committee at 5 pm. Ironically, Mr Chatterjee heads the party’s disciplinary panel.
Mr Chatterjee was arrested last week over alleged irregularities in recruitment of school teachers during his tenure as state education minister. Responding to media queries on whether he is considering stepping down as a minister, he replied, “Why should I resign?”
Soon after his arrest, Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told the media that the party would not remove him as a cabinet minister until he was proven guilty.
However, as TV screens flashed visuals of cash heaps yesterday, Mr Ghosh said the senior party leader brought “shame and disgrace to all of us”.
The Trinamool spokesperson tweeted that Mr Chatterjee should be expelled from the party. He later deleted the tweet and said that he had expressed his personal opinion and that the party has now taken up the issue.
The Trinamool mouthpiece, “Jago Bangla”, has now stopped naming Mr Chatterjee as a minister or the party’s general secretary. However, his name remains in the printer’s line as editor of the mouthpiece.
The CBI, as per directions of the Calcutta High Court, is looking into the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in Bengal’s government-sponsored and aided schools. The Enforcement Directorate is tracking the money trail in the scam.