The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is miffed with former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee for visiting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence on the occasion of Bhai Phonta, or Bhai Dooj, on Tuesday.
Chatterjee had deserted Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) over differences with the party and joined the BJP in August, but reports had later indicated that he was being “regularly humiliated” by the saffron party.
He visited Banerjee’s residence in south Kolkata’s Kalighat area along with his close associate Baishakhi Bandopadhyay on Tuesday. However, he did not speak to the media waiting outside the chief minister’s residence.
Though miffed over the development, the BJP leadership in the state tried to put up a brave face and noted that religious festivals should be kept above “petty politics”, reported news agency PTI.
“I don’t see any politics in it. We should keep politics aside when it comes to taking part in religious festivals and social occasions. Sovan has been visit Banerjee’s residence for several years on the occasion of Bhai Phonta, so that could be the reason behind his visit,” said Dilip Ghosh, state BJP chief.
According to West Bengal BJP sources, the state unit has informed the central leadership about the development and it is likely to seek “an explanation” from Chatterjee for visiting Banerjee’s residence without informing the party.
Chatterjee had been a two-time mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, besides being a minister. The chief minister is known to have played a key role in shaping his political career, which like her had begun in the Youth Congress, before reaching the top echelons of the TMC.
Chatterjee and Bandopadhyay joined the BJP in New Delhi on August 14. However, he has not been seen in any public programme of the saffron party since then. Bandopadhyay earlier claimed that Chatterjee had expressed his desire to quit the saffron fold for being “regularly humiliated”, but he did not make any public announcement on quitting the BJP.
Chatterjee was asked by Banerjee to resign from his post as both minister and mayor in November 2018 following problems in his personal life.
(With inputs from agencies)