Calcutta, Oct. 30: When mayor Subrata Mukherjee was armtwisting SSKM Hospital, a senior Bengal minister Asok Bhattacharya was giving his legs some exercise after taking ‘no’ for an answer.
Bhattacharya, overseer of urban development as well as all municipalities, including Mukherjee’s Calcutta Municipal Corporation, and family members walked with other spectators heading towards Eden Gardens after they were stopped by policemen from driving up to the Club House entrance meant for important personalities.
“Amra minister finister manina, sticker chhara kono gadi jabe na (We don’t know any minister. No car will pass through without a sticker),” said the traffic sergeant on duty in front of Akashbani Bhavan.
He made the emphatic statement after the minister’s security guard got off the white government car — the ubiquitous Ambassador — in which Bhattacharya and his nephew and niece were travelling and tried to explain why the car should be allowed to move along the space marked for speedy passage of VIPs. They had passes for the Club House enclosure.
The traffic sergeant denied the car entry as it did not have the green sticker, issued by police for cars to be used by VIPs. Though Bhattacharya’s car was complete with the regulation red light and his department’s marking, the policemen on duty were not convinced.
The third-time CPM minister stepped out of the car and tried to reason with them himself after disclosing his identity. The sergeant repeated himself: “Aami minister finister chinina.”
At this point, Bhattacharya decided not to allow a bruised ego to influence his action. After asking his nephew and niece to get out of the car and follow him, Bhattacharya told the sergeant: “Very well, I shall not insist any more. I see you have an important job to do.”
Bhattacharya said he did not want to kick up a row because as a people’s representative, he was duty-bound to allow a policeman to discharge his responsibilities, though he found the latter’s action “disturbing”. He later reported the incident to senior officers in the Club House.
“The constables did not recognise the minister. Later, Kuldip Singh, deputy commissioner, south, escorted him to his seat and apologised,” an officer said.
Why the apology'