Politics demands difficult sacrifices, but the one that West Bengal resident Raja Chatterjee is making now seems to be without parallel even in the most testing of times.
Trinamool Congress leader Raja, 40, has walked out on his wife of 12 years simply because she refused to withdraw her candidature as an Independent in the civic polls that has pitted her directly against the Trinamool candidate.
Raja, the Trinamool Congress committee president of Bansberia (a town in Hooghly district), has already walked out of his home, where he used to live with wife Shilpi, his mother and a 10-year-old daughter who suffers from neurological problems.
“My party comes before family. I’ve decided to send her a legal notice asking for divorce. As party president of the area, I’m answerable to my party first,” Raja told HT on Monday afternoon.
Reconciliation seems impossible at the moment, with Shilpi saying, “There’s no question of backing out from my decision. I’ll go till the end.”
The Chatterjees were a picture of happiness until political ambitions tore them apart. Raja, an employee of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, used to take his wife out for movies and to restaurants and would chat with her for hours.
Shilpi, an ardent fan of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, also devoted much time and effort to Bansberia Ward 21, from where she is contesting. She also helped her husband in his political work as town president of the ruling party.
“I expected that the party would give me a ticket to fight in this election. But, when I was bypassed, I decided to contest on my own,” she said. Thoroughly disillusioned, Shilpi resigned from the party and filed her nomination. All hell broke loose in the otherwise peaceful Chatterjee household from March 28, the last date of withdrawal of nominations.
“I left no stones unturned - including bringing up the subject during pillow talk - to convince my wife to withdraw her nomination. But she was adamant. I had no option but to leave her,” said Raja.
He left home after March 29. Shilpi, however, continues to live in her in-laws’ house.
“We don’t want his family broken up like this. But we can’t help feeling proud of Raja, who can make such a sacrifice,” the Trinamool’s Hooghly district president, Tapan Dasgupta, said.
“Some well-off citizens of my ward are financing my campaign,” she added, refusing to divulge the amount she has managed to garner for campaigning. Is Mamata Banerjee listening?