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Sovan Chatterjee in Mamata's house on 'Bhai Phonta', BJP says


Press Trust of India Kolkata
In an apparent hint of his return to the ruling TMC, West Bengal BJP leader Sovan Chatterjee on Tuesday visited the residence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the occasion of 'Bhai Phonta'.
A miffed BJP put up a brave face and said "religious festivals and social occasions should be kept above petty politics".
According to sources in BJP, the party is, however, likely to seek explanation from Chatterjee over his visit to the TMC supremo's residence without informing it.
Chatterjee, who had joined BJP a little over two months ago following differences with the TMC leadership, went to the TMC supremo's residence in Kalighat area of the city along with his close friend Baishakhi Bandopadhyay.
In the last three months, Chatterjee, who has been the city mayor and a minister, had been summoned twice by CBI in Saradha and Rose Valley scam.
The four-time TMC MLA did not speak to media persons waiting outside the chief minister's house.
'Bhai Phonta' or 'Bhai Dooj' celebrates the bonding between brothers and sisters.
Reacting to the development, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said social festivals and occasions should be kept above politics.
"I don't see any politics in it. We should keep politics aside when it comes to taking part in religious festivals and social occasions. He (Sovan) has been going to her (Mamata Banerjee) residence for last several years on the occasion of Bhai Phonta. So that may be the reason behind his visit to the chief minister's residence," Ghosh told PTI.
However, a large section of state BJP leader did not see the development as mere participation in a social occasion given the relationship that Chatterjee has been sharing with the saffron camp since his joining it.
"We have informed the central leadership about the development and most likely an explanation will be sought from him," a senior state BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said.
State BJP vice-president Pratap Banerjee said it is for Chatterjee to decide what he wants as "neither his joining or leaving BJP will have any impact in party's prospects in the state".
Chatterjee and Bandopadhyay had joined the BJP in New Delhi on August 14. However, he has not been seen in any public programme of the saffron party since then.
Bandopadhyay had claimed that Chatterjee had expressed his desire to quit the saffron fold for being "regularly humiliated", but he did not make any public announcement on quitting BJP.
According to TMC sources, Chatterjee has been sending feelers to the party's leadership as he has not been very happy with the developments since his joining the saffron camp

"His attending Bhai Phonta at the CM's residence is a major step for his return to TMC," a senior TMC leader said.
Recently Baisakhi Bandopadhyay had met TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee at his residence although what transpired therein was never made public.
"Although Sovan joined BJP, he never felt at home in it after spending so many years in TMC. The issue of TMC MLA Debashree Roy wishing to join BJP, his opposition to it and the developments that followed did not go down well with him," the TMC leader said.
Chatterjee after joining BJP had accused TMC of turning into a personal fiefdom of Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek and had even said he would like to contest against Mamata Banerjee if needed in 2021 assembly polls.
He along with Bandopadhyay had met BJP national general secretary and its Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya in September and expressed their desire to quit the party.
The two are understood to have been nettled over developments related to two-time TMC MLA Debashree Roy seeking to join the BJP.
Roy had also visited the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on August 14 following assurance by a senior state party leader that she could switch over to the saffron fold, but was met with opposition from Chatterjee, the sources said.
Ghosh had said he had no objection to Roy joining the party.
Chatterjee had been a two-time mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, besides being a minister.
Banerjee is known to have played a key role in shaping his political career, which like her had begun in the Youth Congress, before reaching the top echelons of the TMC.
Chatterjee was asked by Banerjee to resign from his post as both minister and mayor in November 2018 following problems in his personal life.

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First Published: Oct 29 2019 | 8:25 PM IST

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