The Mamata Banerjee government on Thursday removed Partha Chatterjee, who has been arrested in connection with the multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC), from all three of his ministerial posts.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet at the state Secretariat, Nabanna that lasted for little less than 15 minutes. Soon after the meeting, Chief Secretary, H.K. Dwivedi issued a notification on the removal of Chatterjee, who held the portfolios of Commerce and Industries, Parliamentary Affairs, and Information Technology and Electronics.
The Chief Minister said that for the time being, she will be in charge of the three departments held by Chatterjee. "I might not be able to do anything now. But till the time a fresh arrangement is reached, the present status will continue," she said.
A crucial meeting of the disciplinary committee of Trinamool Congress will be held on Thursday evening to decide on whether Chatterjee will be stripped of his party posts or not.
"The decision was inevitable since whatever is transpiring for the last few days is not just maligning Chatterjee's personal image but also the image of the party and the state government in general. Almost all the members of the cabinet present at the meeting voiced for his removal from the ministerial chairs," said a member of the state cabinet who did not wish to be named.
Indications on Chatterjee's removal became clear since the last couple of days after the Assembly Secretariat withdrew the vehicle allotted to him as a minister. The state government also removed his security personnel on Wednesday. The party's organ in Bengali Jago Bangla (Wake up Bengal) also stopped referring him as party Secretary General or minister. Pressure was also mounting from within the party to strip off Chatterjee of his ministerial and party portfolios.
The opposition parties, while welcoming the decision, said that it is unfortunate that Banerjee had to wait for the second round of treasure recovery from Arpita Mukherjee's Belgharia residence on Wednesday night. The opposition leaders also said that by just taking action against Chatterjee, the Trinamool or its government would not be able to wipe out the curse, since the beneficiaries of the scam were not just the minister and his close aide.