West Bengal’s industry minister Partha Chatterjee, arrested in the SSC scam, should be removed immediately from his post and expelled from the Trinamool Congress, the party’s state general secretary Kunal Ghosh demanded on Thursday. A party meeting for this evening has been announced on this regard, Ghosh said.
Nearly Rs 50 crore in cash, and gold believed to be in kilograms were recovered from apartments linked to Chatterjee’s close associate Arpita Mukherjee, besides documents of properties and foreign exchange, as per officials of the Enforcement Directorate, which arrested them.
“Partha Chatterjee should be removed from ministry and all party posts immediately. He should be expelled. If this statement considered wrong, party has every right to remove me from all posts. I shall continue as a soldier of @AITCofficial (TMC),” Ghosh, also the party’s spokesperson, tweeted.
He also said that he has full faith in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
“He (Partha Chatterjee) is saying why he would quit as minister. Why is he not saying in the public domain that he is innocent and has no relation with Arpita Mukherjee? What is stopping him from doing that? I have full faith in Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee, and I think they will take the appropriate decision,” Ghosh said.
The comment came amid the opposition BJP and CPI(M)’s attack on the TMC for not taking any action against Chatterjee even as huge amounts of cash were recovered from properties linked to him.
However, he deleted the tweet a few hours later saying that the party has taken up the issue.
In my earlier tweet, I had expressed my opinion.
Now, the party has taken up the issue.
Avishek Banerjee has convened party meeting today 5pm at TMC bhawan. I have been told to attend that meeting also.
So, as @AITCofficial has taken up the matter, I am deleting the personal one.
— Kunal Ghosh (@KunalGhoshAgain) July 28, 2022
On Wednesday, Ghosh said that hoped the TMC leadership would take note of the public perception as the recovery of cash brought “disgrace” to the party and “shame to all of us”.
TMC spokesperson Debangshu Bhattacharya, whose ‘Khela Hobe’ song headlined the party’s 2021 election campaign, also demanded that Chatterjee be expelled.
“As a party worker, I feel that we don’t deserve this public humiliation because of one person. The leadership should take note of it and expel him from the party,” he said.
Reacting to the statements, BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya claimed that the TMC was trying to distance itself from Chatterjee. “All these years, he was a powerful minister and a party leader. Now, as he has been arrested, the TMC is trying to distance itself from him. The TMC is trying to make him a scapegoat. The money trail has to be investigated,” he said.
The chief minister recently said that if someone is found guilty, she would not spare that person even if he is a minister. Chatterjee holds the portfolios of Commerce & Industry, Parliamentary Affairs, Information Technology and Electronics, and Public Enterprises & Industrial Reconstruction in the state cabinet.
Chatterjee, also the secretary-general of the Trinamool Congress, was arrested on Saturday in the SSC scam. The CBI, as directed by the Calcutta High Court, is probing the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group-C and D staff as well as teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools on recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC). The ED is tracking the money trail in the scam.
Chatterjee was the education minister when the alleged irregularities took place. On Tuesday, his official car was taken back by the state assembly.
TMC’s mouthpiece “Jago Bangla” (Wake up, Bengal) has stopped naming him either as a minister or the party’s secretary-general. However, his name remains in the printer’s line as its editor.