Partha Chatterjee: The 'greedy, work-shy penny-pinching hoarder' in the eye of the SSC scam
The stories of Chatterjee's miserliness are legion in the TMC, which also explains why he allegedly hoarded Rs 52 crore in cash, thousands of dollars worth lakhs and jewellery valued at Rs 4 crore.
NEW DELHI: After a 13-day customary mourning following his wife Babli's death in July 2017, the then industry minister of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress general secretary Partha Chatterjee threw a lavish lunch on the occasion of shraddh or ceremonial offering to a departed soul.
It was anything but ceremonial as hundreds of guests partook of the sumptuous lunch.
The raw vegetables came from the plentiful fields of Nadia and the many varieties of fish came from Midnapore. "Some TMC workers bore the expenses. But Partha never reimbursed the partymen. His stinginess was staggering," a TMC leader said on the condition of anonymity.
The stories of Chatterjee's miserliness are legion in the TMC, which also explains why he allegedly hoarded Rs 52 crore in cash, thousands of dollars worth lakhs and jewellery valued at Rs 4 crore. Then there are the apartments, some known while the others remain untraced.
Not just Kolkata but all of Bengal is agog with raunchy and anything-goes stories of the 69-year-old Chatterjee and his 36-year-old belle Arpita Mukherjee. There is talk of another woman –- a teacher -– said to be close to Chatterjee.
The Chatterjee-Arpita relationship blossomed some 10 years ago when a South Kolkata councilor introduced the two at a cultural show. As their chemistry deepened, Arpita would often visit Chatterjee's Naktala residence in South Kolkata. There were occasions when she would visit his office.
On most occasions, however, they met at some of the well-appointed flats in Belghoria, where Arpita is originally from. One flat was exclusively for eight pet dogs. A bungalow built over 10-cottah land, and named 'Apa' -- short for Arpita and Partha -- in Shantiniketan, was the couple's hinterland getaway.
Arpita, however, never influenced Chatterjee's politics -- she was quite content with the money he splurged on her. Chatterjee did not apparently lead a lavish life but lavished money on luxury in Arpita's name. This took the form of apartments, or expensive cars – a Mini Cooper, a Mercedes Benz, a Honda City and a few others.
When sex toys were found hidden away amidst the piles of currency notes and gold jewellery and biscuits, Chatterjee's TMC colleagues’ imagination ran riot, followed by guffaws over the "excesses of flesh". Comparisons are being drawn with the relationship between a former Kolkata mayor (of the TMC) and his extramarital courting of a woman.
They are also angry. For, despite stashing away crores, Chatterjee never contributed much in cash, leave alone kind, to the party.
Chatterjee's politics began with the Congress but he veered towards Mamata Banerjee before throwing in his lot with the mercurial lady when she broke away to form the Trinamool Congress in 1997. In those early days, Chatterjee did not severe ties with Congressmen such as Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and Saugata Roy did, often playing a bridge between the TMC and the Congress as Banerjee gained ground long after the Left Front's decimation.
Long before joining the TMC, Chatterjee worked as an HR professional for the Andrew Yule Group which, since 1979, has been a public sector enterprise. Chatterjee took an MBA degree from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM).
He first contested the 2001 assembly elections, winning the Behala West seat. This was followed by a string of victories –- in 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021.
While Chatterjee's penny-pinching is the stuff of jokes -– ribald and otherwise -– his party colleagues frown upon his near total lack of attention to ministerial responsibilities of which he had many: parliamentary affairs, commerce and industry and education. "He wouldn't attend to the files. In many ways, Chatterjee is symptomatic of what's happening, or not happening, in Bengal," said a senior state Congress leader.