The ruling Trinamool Congress Tuesday removed North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb from the post of chairman of North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) replacing him with Saurav Chakraborty, the party president for Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts.
The move to replace Deb, who had been the chairman of NBSTC since April 13, 2012, comes just a day after he met Left Front leader and newly-elected mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC), Asok Bhattacharya.
Contacted, Deb said he had not been officially informed about the development and so would not be able to comment. Chakraborty, meanwhile, confirmed the decision.
“I have been given a responsibility, which I will have to fulfil and for that I will need everyone’s cooperation. It is a teamwork and there is no question of rivalry here,” he said.
Sources in the ruling party said that the move was on the expected lines given the poor performance of the party in the recently concluded SMC elections. Deb was in-charge of party’s campaign in Siliguri. On the other hand, the party won both the Jalpaiguri and Malbazar civic bodies under Chakraborty’s watch.
“Deb was already in the bad books of the party supremo (Mamata Banerjee) after party’s loss in Siliguri civic polls. His meeting with Bhattacharya, after senior leaders and ministers had refused to meet the Left Front leader in Kolkata, did not go down well with the party high command,” a senior TMC leader said.
“There are more posts that Deb is holding, which would be taken away from him soon. He has failed to live up to the expectations of the party chief,” the leader added.
All India TMC secretary general, Partha Chatterjee, meanwhile, said that Deb’s removal had nothing to do with the TMC’s loss in Siliguri civic polls, but admitted that the party was expecting a better result there. “His meeting with Asok Bhattacharya or the party’s performance in the SMC elections have nothing to do with the move. He was not solely responsible for the poor show in the polls. The party was, nevertheless looking for a better result in the civic polls,” Partha said.
Partha claimed that Deb himself had expressed willingness to step down from the post as he was unable to concentrate on his other work. “We would want him to be more focused on his primary duties that is development of North Bengal, which he is in charge of. Again, he is also the party’s district president there. That is why he had been relieved from the duty of NBSTC chairmanship,” Partha added.