Firhad ‘asked’ to lie low for now

State Urban Development Minister and one of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's most trusted lieutenants, Firhad Hakim has been asked to keep away from public meetings and programmes for the time being and let the present controversy over his relation with the Garden Reach leaders whose names surfaced in the police officer murder case, subside. Many in the Trinamool Congress would like to believe that Firhad's wings have been clipped for the time being.

Hakim has been directed not to speak to media and he has been restricted from going to Nalhati in Birbhum district where he was supposed to go for campaigning for the Assembly by-poll. He also skipped another programme in the city during the day. A senior TMC leader said: "Hakim has only been barred from speaking to media. And that is why all his public meetings — in Birbhum and in Kolkata as well — were cancelled."

Meanwhile, Governor M K Narayanan, when asked at a programme during the day if he recommended anything for the state urban development minister, said: "Firhad Hakim is a minister in the cabinet of the state government. So, if anything was to be done, the cabinet will decide."

State Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee, however, denied any information about this and Mukul Roy, TMC general secretary denied to comment over the issue. Several senior leaders of TMC, however, confirmed that Hakim has been barred from attending any public programme 'for the time being ' and 'till the Garden Reach issue settles down' Hakim has also been barred from speaking to media, said TMC insiders. Earlier, Hakim was nominated by Mamata Banerjee as one of the spokespersons for the government to talk to the media.

Even though, sources in TMC ranks admitted that Didi cannot afford to have Hakim removed from the Cabinet, but some disciplinary action would be taken to 'protect the party's public image'. Moreover, questions are also being raised inside the party on Hakim not having been punished even after his nexus with the local toughs got exposed.

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