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Satyasadhan offers to quit over reprimand

Calcutta Dec. 29: State higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty has offered to quit, unable to come to terms with the tongue-lashing he received from Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during a cabinet meeting last week.

CPM officials at the Alimuddin Street headquarters said today that party secretary Anil Biswas was dissuading Chakraborty from tendering his resignation.

He was also impressing upon the chief minister the need for restraint ' especially in dealing with his cabinet colleagues and leaders of allies ' when Assembly elections are approaching.

During the meeting last week, Bhattacharjee had severely upbraided the higher education minister, with finance minister Asim Dasgupta providing inputs from the background to sharpen the assault.

Two days after the cabinet meeting, Chakraborty called on Jyoti Basu and Anil Biswas with a resignation letter, party officials said.

Chakraborty's consistent line was: 'I have been a senior party member as well as a minister. I do not deserve to be treated in this way. Buddhadeb babu is within his rights to assess my performance, which, given the constraints, I think, is not so bad. But I certainly do not deserve to be publicly humiliated. I would be grateful if you regard my position as realistic and accept my resignation and assign organisational work to me.'

Chakraborty refused to comment on reports of his resignation. 'I am not going to discuss my affairs with the media,' Chakraborty told The Telegraph over phone.

'You will have to ask the chief minister about it because I continue to be a member of his cabinet,' he said when asked if he would like to deny the reports.

Confirmation of the developments came during the day from two quarters.

At Writers' Buildings, two senior ministers and an official close to the chief minister said on the condition of anonymity that 'Chakraborty has offered to quit and the party is directly handling the affair'. The chief minister was not going to be involved, they added.

A source close to Biswas said: 'Satyasadhan babu has been advised not to press the leadership to accept his resignation. He has been told that he would be provided an honourable exit route when the elections come closer.'

Neither Basu nor Biswas would offer any comment.

The higher education minister apparently explained that the chief minister's assessment of his performance 'pained' him as it did not take into account his success in many areas like the setting up of private engineering colleges. 'I made it clear to you (Basu and Biswas) as well as the leadership long back that I don't want to continue as part of the government and now comes this insult' enough, let me go,' a source quoted Chakraborty as saying.

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