Kolkata: Ties between
West Bengal's ruling alliance partners Trinamool Congress and
Congress worsened Tuesday with a Congress minister launching a
no-holds-barred attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, calling
her a dictator and questioning her performance in the government.
Angry over Banerjee clipping his wings by taking away two
departments Monday during a ministerial reshuffle, Congress
Minister of State Manoj Chakraborty said he now wanted to quit the
ministry which lacked any "standing" or "stability".
Chakraborty, who had sharply criticised the chief minister Jan 9
when she asked the Congress to walk out of the alliance if it so
desired, lost his two portfolios -- parliamentary affairs and
small and cottage industries. And he was made minister of state
for food processing and horticulture.
"In September, I was given cottage and small scale after I found
no role for myself in parliamentary affairs. I have given not 100
percent, but 200 percent as minister. And if performance is the
criterion, the fact is people are raising questions about Mamata
Banerjee's performance," said Chakraborty.
An MLA from Congress stronghold Murshidabad district, Chakraborty
is also a staunch loyalist of Banerjee's bete noire and Congress
MP Adhir Chowdhury.
"I don't know why I was shifted. It was done with an attitude of
vengeance. If the party permits me, I'll quit. I don't want to
bear such insults. Dignity is most important to me."
"It's dictatorship. The ministry lacks any standing or stability,"
said a fuming Chakraborty.
The minister said he has already spoken to Congress heavyweight
and union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Chowdhury. "Adhir
babu has asked me to resign. Pranab babu has said he will look
Chakraborty said he would fax his resignation to Congress
president Sonia Gandhi soon.
"If the Congress has a compulsion to continue in this ministry,
they should look for someone else."
"My resignation letter is ready. Only the date has to be put," he
said, displaying a typed sheet.
He also did not spare senior state Congress leader and Minister
for Irrigation Manas Bhuniya. Accusing Bhuniya, a former PCC
chief, of doublespeak, Chakraborty said: "He has been repeatedly
asking me to tell Pranab babu how long more the Congress should
stay in the ministry by stomaching all sorts of insults."
"But again, he is all sweet and honey when he comes out of the
chief minister's chamber. Actually, he is too fond of the
ministerial chair," Chakraborty said, when a media person pointed
out that Banerjee had discussed the portfolio reshuffle with
Bhuniya in advance.
Adhir Chowdhury stood firmly behind Chakraborty, saying he has
spoken out after being humiliated.
"The attitude of the chief minister is unacceptable. She should
have consulted the Congress state leadership before shuffling the
portfolio of our ministers. It was the chief minister who asked us
to leave the alliance by holding a media meet at the state
secretariat. Others are now only following him."
"The chief minister has acted out of political vendetta. She has a
dictatorial attitude. Even Trinamool ministers have swords hanging
over them. She is showing the arrogance of majority."
Another Congress cabinet minister, Abu Hena, also from Murshidabad
and Chakraborty's loyalist, lost food processing and was left with
Chowdhury also sharply criticised the government's performance,
particularly in health, a portfolio held by Banerjee. "Babies are
being stolen from government hospitals, and children are dying
there a dime a dozen. These things are sending wrong signals about
Chowdhury, however, criticised Chakraborty's comments on Bhuniya.
"I don't appreciate this. He should not have said such things
State Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra called Chakraborty an
"asset" for the Congress.
The Trinamool hit back. "It is not fair to attack the chief
minister and the government's performance while you are in the
ministry. One should leave the ministry before making such
remarks," said Industry Minister and senior Trinamool leader
The Congress and the Trinamool are alliance partners both in the
state and at the centre. But the Congress, which spearheads the
United Progressive Alliance in Delhi, does not have substantial
numbers in West Bengal, where Trinamool has a majority on its own
in the assembly.