The ‘Rise and Fall’ of Trusted Mamata Banerjee Loyalist Partha Chatterjee | Kolkata


Known to be a loyalist to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, 70-year-old Partha Chatterjee’s slow but steady rise to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has left many of his colleagues in envy, an official said on Monday. number of party veterans even as the Chief Minister has railed against opposition parties for dragging her name in the teacher recruitment scam in which Chatterjee, the party’s general secretary and minister for education ‘Bengal Industry, is now in the custody of the Law Enforcement Directorate (ED) as the prime suspect. “Being two years younger than Chatterjee, the head of the TMC called him Partha Da, or elder brother, although in his close circles she never hesitated to make fun of his obesity, often calling him ‘Motu’. (the big one). They certainly shared the affection,” said a senior leader who was associated with Chatterjee even before Banerjee split from Congress and formed his own party in 1998. Chatterjee came from a humble background, have A resident of south Kolkata, he studied at the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya in Narendrapur on the southern outskirts of the city for three years, said a member of the school’s alumni association who made him a permanent guest member. “He attended one of the meetings before the Covid-19 pandemic started. In a casual conversation, he said no one stays on top of TMC forever. Downfall may come as fast as the rise,” said the alumni association member. ens, a businessman, who preferred to remain anonymous. The prediction that the Minister made in front of his classmates seemed quite accurate in the context of the current scenario. “I don’t mind if someone is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. But why is my name drawn into this? The BJP and the CPI(M) use my photographs in their campaign. I don’t even drink a cup of tea with someone else’s money,” Banerjee said on Monday in his first public reaction to Chatterjee’s arrest and seizure of ₹91.90 crore in cash, jewelry and documents related to the ownership of the home of Arpita Mukherjee, another prime suspect who was described by ED as Chatterjee’s “close assistant”. The CM explosion, TMC leaders said, was not unexpected because until his arrest, Chatterjee was the only senior member who was not a suspect in the ongoing Saradha and Narada cases. been investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED for several years now. “Chatterjee was proud of it. He suffered his first setback last year when CBI questioned him in the I-Core voucher fund scam the agency has been investigating since 2014. said a TMC executive. Part of the leadership believes that after TMC founding member Mukul Roy joined the BJP in 2017, the post of General Secretary was created for Chatterjee solely because of his long association with Mamata Banerjee. “Partha joined the Youth Congress when he was a student at Asutosh College, Bhawanipore. Mamata, who still lives in the same neighborhood, was a student at Jogomaya Debi College, the institution for women located in the same building. During the turbulent 1970s, Bengal witnessed the Naxalite movement led by urban university students. Partha became the general secretary of the university union and a disciple of Subrata Mukherjee, who was the youngest minister in the government of Siddhartha Shankhar Ray and also Mamata’s mentor,” a veteran leader said. “The other person they followed was Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi but he got into national politics,” the veteran added. “After fainting from college, Partha decided to pursue higher education, something few career politicians did at the time. He obtained a master’s degree from the University of Calcutta and enrolled in the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management. The management degree helped him land a job at Andrew Yule, the once British-run engineering company. He became the head of its human resources department,” said a second veteran executive. “Chatterjee was never known for making big speeches. So he made up for that big flaw with his organizational skills,” he added. Chatterjee quit his corporate career and joined TMC after his training.” His experience at Andrew Yule kind of paid off. Partha had helped several people find jobs in the company. Some of these men came from families with political backgrounds. But he had to stay low in the TMC for many years because the top echelon was filled with former bureaucrats like Bikram Sarkar and Dipak Ghosh and veterans like Pankaj Banerjee, one of the TMC founders who was also the chief. of the opposition,” said a former TMC lawmaker. “Chatterjee rose through the ranks after the veterans left, one by one, following disputes with Mamata Banerjee. Winning the Behala West Assembly seat in 2001 added to his significance. He was appointed leader of the opposition in the assembly during the last years of the Left Front government. This gave him equal status to that of a cabinet minister,” the former lawmaker added. Chatterjee’s colleagues said he was always known for his love of shiny kurtas, sweets and snacks that doctors forbade him to eat, and cell phones with the latest technology. “Chatterjee rarely shows his anger in public. His only weakness seems to be his daughter, Sohini, who got married a few years ago. His wife, Jayashree, died in 2017 after a prolonged illness,” said a minister who did not want to be named.” We were not shocked when reports of his association with several women emerged in the media in recent days. But that is part of his personal life,” the minister added. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tanmay Chatterjee has spent more than three decades covering regional and national politics, homeland security, intelligence, defense and corruption. He also plans and edits special reports on topics ranging from elections to festivals. …See the details


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