Controversies made West Bengal’s transport, sports and youth affairs minister Subhas Chakraborty an enigma during his lifetime.
After his death — at a city hospital at 11.35 am on Monday after a brief illness — he left unresolved a series of debates that he initiated, according to his detractors, just to embarrass his own party, the CPI(M).
Senior to most of the present state committee members, including chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Chakraborty never made it to the central committee.
His last volley against the CPI(M)’s central leadership under general secretary Prakash Karat was “Those who can’t win even a municipal election are now formulating our party’s policy.”
His favourite target, however, was CM Bhattacharjee. He never pulled his punches when commenting on the highhandedness of the state police or Bhattacharjee’s intervention in the functioning of the Cricket Association of Bengal.
“My leader is Jyoti Basu,” he used to announce whenever he got the chance. Just a few weeks back, as he celebrated Jyoti Basu’s birthday, he asked the 96-year-old leader to revitalise the party’s image. Basu was shattered when he heard the news of Chakraborty’s death.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said, “Whatever may be our political differences, the fact remains that Bengal lost a good politician.”
Congress leader and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “The state has lost an administrator and an effective minister.”
Near the hospital, there were hundreds of Chakraborty’s supporters who broke down in tears. All of them were not party members, but common people who were close to Chakraborty.
In a rare moment of public display of emotion, a visibly distraught CPI(M)’s state secretary and politburo member Biman Bose broke down in front of a score of television cameras.