TMC’s ‘loyal soldier’ waits for marching order

The fate of Trinamool Congress chief whip Sovandeb Chattopadhyay seems to have been sealed as the party has reportedly taken a decision to remove him from the post after the present Assembly session ends on December 13.

The two names doing the rounds for the post are Tapas Roy, MLA from Baranagar, and Ashok Dev, MLA from Budge Budge.

"I have packed up and am waiting for the marching order," Chattopadhyay told The Indian Express.

The development comes a day after the simmering discontent in the Trinamool found another voice in Ambika Banerjee, MP from Howrah, who on Sunday criticised the party's decision to quit the Railway Ministry.

Today, as Sovandeb conducted his business of mobilising party members inside the House during a division, he seemed unruffled by his impending removal. "I am a loyal soldier of the party and will abide by its decision. But the point I would like to hammer home is that I want to stay in the party with honour," he said.

A meeting of top Trinamool office-bearers was held in the Assembly today to decide the fate of the veteran leader. Party general secretary Mukul Roy, MP Subrata Buxi, minister for panchayats and rural development Subrata Mukherjee and minister for commerce and industries Partha Chatterjee were present.

Minister of state for railways Adhir Choudhury has reportedly exhorted Sovandeb to join the Congress. "I have heard about the offer but I don't want to comment,'' the chief whip said. According to sources close to him, Sovandeb is weighing his options.

In the Assembly, during the debate on Diamond Harbour Women's University Bill, Education Minister Bratya Basu referred to the incident at Calcutta University where Sovandeb was heckled by supporters of a rival faction of the party, and said the government was waiting for the report of a committee set up by the university to probe the incident.

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