Hours after Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Singur in the State’s Hooghly district, her colleague in both the party and in government, local MLA and Minister, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, announced on Friday his decision to retire from politics.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bhattacharya’s revelations of extortion by “responsible” Trinamool Congress workers “under his very nose” — goings-on which Ms. Banerjee was aware of — had created a storm in political circles besides causing severe embarrassment to the party leadership.
Questions were raised whether his remarks may have been the reason for him not being invited to a review meeting at Singur of various projects underway in the district.
“I had waited for it but did not get an invitation [to the meeting],” said Mr. Bhattacharya, who was a close associate of Ms. Banerjee in the movement against the acquisition of land for the since abandoned Tata Motors small car project — one that contributed to her political ascendancy in the State.
Mr. Bhattacharya, however, chose to de-link his decision to retire from politics from his being divested in the reshuffle on November 22 of the Agriculture portfolio he held in the State’s Council of Ministers, and given charge of relatively less important department, that of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Bhattacharya said he had written to the Chief Minister well before the reshuffle that he was both physically and mentally not in a position to continue as Agriculture Minister and “wished to retire from other political activities too.” There was no question of “sentiment” involved.