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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Ex-agriculture minister stops drawing salary

Bibhas Bhattacharyya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, January 16, 2013
First Published: 15:01 IST(16/1/2013) | Last Updated: 15:02 IST(16/1/2013)

At a time the party would dearly hope to be able to extend an olive branch and settle differences with dissident Trinamool Congress leader Rabindranath Bhattacharya, the veteran MLA’s kin has made a fresh revelation to leave his party top bosses red in the face.

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In a sulk since being shunted out of the state agriculture ministry and offered the relatively lightweight statistics and programme implementation department, a family member of the elderly leader said he hasn’t been drawing his salary and allowances over the last couple of months.

The former minister is entitled to a monthly salary and emoluments as a member of the legislative assembly.

Upset over being sidelined from key party affairs and being handed a raw deal during the shake-up in the sate cabinet, the veteran Singur MLA, had even decided to give up active politics. A retired schoolteacher, he has since been living off his monthly pension.

“He last reported for work at Writers’ on November 21 and drew his pay only till that month. When asked to draw his salary for the next month, he politely refused and said that he wouldn’t even draw his allowances as an MLA,” a relative of the veteran leader told HT.

Since being removed as agriculture minister, Bhattacharya stopped reporting at Writers’ and even informed the chief minister of his call. That was before he made known his decision to quit active politics.

The Bhattacharya household is reportedly upset over top party leaders not extending the courtesy of checking up on their colleague since being taken ill on Sunday.

Though the MLA has since been undergoing treatment at a city hospital, none from the party or government, came calling on him.

The only show of courtesy came from Trinamool MP Subhendu Adhikary, who sent him a bouquet of flowers on Monday, complete with a ‘get well soon’ message. Despite his continuing political sanyaas, Bhattacharjee’s name hasn’t yet been struck off the list of ministers in the state cabinet.

“He is still a minister and we expected someone from his party to visit him at the hospital. None from Hooghly except Tapan Dasgupta, the district Trinamool president, came calling on him in Chinsurah. None from the government too extended the courtesy of checking on him since. Have our leaders lost the minimum sense of courtesy?” Bhaktiprasad Adhikary, confidential assistant to Bhattacharya, told HT.

The elderly leader reportedly complained of feeling unwell while enjoying a picnic with family members at Debanandapur of Hooghly. He was admitted to a state-run hospital in Chinsurah before being shifted to a citybased private facility.

However, quizzed on the apparent of lack of courtesy towards the ailing leader, state minister for agriculture and child development Becharam Manna said, “I met him at his Chinsurah place and would visit him shortly at the hospital.”

Since being snubbed during the cabinet reshuffle, he vented his ire at the party leadership and even charged a section of leaders with extortion. He claimed the chief minister was aware of such misdeeds within the ranks.

However, perhaps hinting at a change of heart, state urban development minister Firhad Hakim said on Monday, “He is a part of our ministry. We must visit him.”


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