Kolkata: Former Kolkata mayor and Trinamool MLA Sovan Chatterjee joined the BJP on Wednesday. Chatterjee, a former minister of the Mamata Banerjee government, joined the party in the presence of its senior West Bengal leader Mukul Roy and its general secretary Arun Singh. His friend, Baishaki Banerjee, who is a leader of the Trinamool education cell, also joined the saffron party. Welcoming Chatterjee, Roy said he was one of those leaders who has made a big contribution to Banerjee’s rise to the post of the chief minister. “He will now strengthen the BJP… Let me repeat that Trinamool will not even get the status of the opposition party,” Roy said.
Sovan Chatterjee had grabbed headlines for a wrong reason when he was with the Trinamool government. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had once summoned him, seeking an explanation for no progress in his work. When he tried to convince the chief minister that he was working fine, Banerjee had retorted, “How could you? You have been busy looking for earrings for your girlfriend!”
That ‘girlfriend’ referred to professor Baisakhi Banerjee with whom Chatterjee is rumoured to have had a relationship outside his marriage with Ratna Chatterjee. His father-in-law Dulal Das (himself the councillor of a ward, Maheshtala) openly accused him of continuing brazenly with the “illicit” relationship.
The Trinamool dispensation had asked Chatterjee in November 2018 to step down as the city mayor. He was asked also to relinquish the posts of housing and fire services minister in the Mamata Banerjee Cabinet.
But Chatterjee would have none of it. He would say during the Budget session of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, “I demand the kind of treatment Porus had demanded of Alexander. Stick to administrative issues; don’t tread on my personal life.”
Six Trinamool MLAs and one each of Congress and CPI(M) have switched over to the BJP since the results of Lok Sabha elections were announced in May, with the saffron party wooing rival party leaders to bolster its strength in the run-up to the next Assembly polls in the state due in 2021.
The BJP made deep inroads in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha polls by winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, just four less than the Trinamool.
The Trinamool, which received a jolt by Chatterjee’s defection, said it will expel him from the party, according to sources. According to senior Trinamool leader, efforts were on to bring back Chatterjee to the party fold, who had taken a sabbatical from active politics since last year due to personal reasons. “He will be expelled from the Trinamool. The party is yet to make a final announcement,” a senior Trinamool leader said on condition of anonymity.