Transport minister Madan Mitra lost his cool on Wednesday and threatened a Calcutta Tramways Company employee after he dared ask why salary was being paid irregularly and after much delay. The minister was briefing the media on the ambitious plans of the ailing company.
With a palpable sense of triumph, Mitra was talking to the journalists about the achievement of CTC when middle-aged Tarak Das lobbed the question. Just a few minutes earlier the minister had flagged off two new trams at Esplanade tram terminus premises. The minister was surrounded by CTC chairman Shantilal Jain and a number of CTC employees.
Das suddenly interrupted the minister talking about state government’s role in developing different transport projects. Das quipped, “Sir, amader regular maine hocchena, Amra keu ekhono January masher maine haate paini, eta ektu dekhun (Sir, we are not being paid regularly. We still haven’t got our salary for the month of January. Please look into this matter).
Without caring for the rolling TV cameras, Mitra promptly turned around to the employee who was standing behind him and asked, “Ai eta ke re? Ke bollo eta? Samne ai dekhi. Aami ekhane apnar complaint shonar jonno ashini bujhlen? Esob written complaint forum e janaben (Hey, who said this? Come in front of me. I’m not here to listen to your complaints, you understand? Submit your complaint in written formats to the forum).
Mitra then angrily asked the employee his name, the department where he works and Das, who apparently looked nervous, replied to the minister in a soft voice. After taking his basic details, the minister asked the CTC chairman, standing right beside him, to send him detailed report of the employee by today. The chairman nodded to the minister quietly.
Das, who was silently trying to dissolve in the crowd, couldn’t escape Mitra’s enraged looks. He then was threatened by the minister who said, “Tumi Madan Mitra ke cheno na. Dekhe nebo” (You don’t know Madan Mitra, I will settle this) while signaling a slap towards Das.
The CTC officials, sensing the situation, escorted the minister towards his car before further damage. While walking towards his car Mitra asked a reporter standing in front of him, “What is today’s date? February 12?” the reporter answered, “No it’s February 13”. Mitra said, “Today is only February 13. You should be grateful to us that our government is still managing to arrange money for your salary. The Left Front government, during their 34-year reign wasted and looted all the money making us fully bankrupt. So in spite of complaining you should actually understand the matter.”
“Generally it takes 10-12 days to complete the formal procedures of issuance of salary. Now if somebody commits suicide because his salary is just delayed for 10 days, then what we can we do?” asked Mitra while explaining his wrath to the media.
Both Mitra and finance minister Amit Mitra were present at the Esplanade tram terminus on Wednesday evening for the inauguration ceremony of a pair of heritage tram, namely ‘Vievk-Tirtho’ and ‘Paribrajak’ on 150 year birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. After flagging off both the trams Amit Mitra left the spot hurriedly while Mitra stayed back for a few minutes.
However CTC chairman Shantilal Jain didn’t want to comment on the issue. “I don’t want to say anything about today’s incident. There are 6,500 CTC employees. We have to identify the worker who said this to the minister,” said Jain.
According to sources, the employee, who is now under the departmental enquiry scanner, will be enquired by the managing director along with other officers from his department soon.
“He might face a stop in increment, suspension or demotion if his misdemeanor is proved,” said the source. He also informed that even during Left Front rule a CTC employee was suspended for more than 15 days for creating an “untoward situation” in front of former finance minister Asim Dasgupta when he was at the Esplanade tram terminus for an event.