With the West Bengal fire and housing minister Sovan Chatterjee resigning from his ministerial post on Tuesday, there are mixed reactions in the political circles. After Chatterjee tendered his resignation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked him to also resign from his post as Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) mayor by Thursday. Chatterjee’s estranged wife Ratna Chatterjee reacted to the development on Tuesday.
“It is sad to see this man, who used to work day and night to fulfil his responsibilities as minister, is now careless enough to forget his duties and is running away from them due to obnoxious reasons and controversial issues. I want to know which obsession of his led to his downfall,” she said.
Ratna Chatterjee added: “Today, he is alone due to the wrong decisions he made in his life, placing his faith in unworthy and unknown people. He chose to ignore his family members.”
Dulal Das, Ratna Chatterjee’s father and the Mahestala MLA, too expressed grief at the development.
Earlier this year, Dulal Das had hit out at a college professor, Baishakhi Banerjee, as being responsible for the break in relation between Sovan and Ratna.
“Baishakhi Banerjee was responsible for the break in relation between Sovan Chatterjee and Ratna Chatterjee. If she is his friend as she is claiming , why she could not prevent the both from seeking separation? I cannot identify her to be our family friend,” Das had alleged.
Banerjee, who came into spotlight after the mayor called her his “long time family friend” had then said: “The post of a mayor or minister is trifle to me. I know Sovan Chatterjee as a person whom I respect to the core and shall remain his follower till the end.”
Chatterjee had recently lodged a police complaint against Ratna Chatterjee alleging that she forcibly tried to enter his Golpark flat in South Kolkata.
It was learnt that Chatterjee’s decision to quit came in the wake of the CM’s displeasure over Chatterjee’s alleged dereliction of duty. It was alleged that he was not fulfilling his administrative and civic responsibilities as a result of his legal tussle concerning the divorce case against Ratna Chatterjee.
Asked if Chatterjee’s resignation would affect the functioning of the KMC, Atin Ghosh, Member Mayor in Council, Health, KMC, said: “In the Municipal Act, it is mentioned how the civic body will function in someone’s absence. Every KMC department has a controlling officer and the party policies are already well defined. If a vacancy is created, it will be filled up accordingly.”
Meanwhile, at the time of writing, there was no conformation if Chhaterjee had tendered his resignation. KMC Chairperson Mala Roy told the local media that she was yet to receive any resignation letter from the mayor.
While Trinamool Congress has already announced that Sovan Chatterjee position would be looked after by Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed, the situation has thrown up a legal problem. Until a new mayor is elected, the Mayor Parishad cannot sign in any file because it ceases to be valid once the mayor resigns.
As per law, one cannot be a mayor until and unless he or she is an elected candidate of councillor.
According to sources, a bill will be submitted at the Vidhan Sabha on Thursday for amendment of the law.
“We are planning to emulate the law followed during the Assembly and general election. According to the proposed amendment, a person who is not an elected candidate or a councillor can be made the mayor, but he will have to win the civic polls to continue in the post,” PTI quoted a highly-placed official at the state administration as saying.
The official said an amendment in the civic law was likely in the ongoing winter session of the Assembly. “Possibly, there will be a discussion on the issue in the Assembly Thursday,” he said.