After a feeble show of strength, the government on Friday transferred the managing director of the Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) G.P. Konar, apparently buckling under pressure from the Citu, the ruling CPM’s labour arm. Sukumar Bhattacharya of Kalyani Spinning Mill has replaced Konar.
That the Citu was instrumental in engineering the transfer could be gauged from the manner in which Konar was hurriedly shunted out only two days after some Citu leaders called on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings and submitted a memorandum to him.
They had been on a collision course with Konar since April over the appointment of a Bangalore-based expert to help turn around the ailing corporation.
They demanded his removal, alleging that Konar had brought in B. Shamba Shetty, a retired general manager of the Bangalore Metropolitan Corporation, despite protests from the CSTC Employees’ Union, affiliated to Citu. Shetty was assigned to improve work culture at the corporation’s central workshop at Belghoria and 11 other depots across the city.
“We ultimately got Konar ousted from the corporation after a prolonged agitation against him. Konar has crippled our engineers and made them sit idle by appointing Shetty here. It’s good that the government has met our demand,” Narayan Saha, general secretary of the employees’ union, said on Monday. Late last month, Saha said he would ask CSTC engineers to stop reporting to Shetty, as they “have been without work since his arrival here in April”.
Asked if Konar was transferred under Citu pressure, Mohit Khan, joint secretary, department of transport, said this was a “routine matter”, since Konar had already worked in the corporation for over four years. “But the fact remains that Citu has some grievances against Konar, particularly the appointment of the Bangalore-based expert,” he added.
Khan, however, made it clear that the government had no intention of discontinuing with Shetty’s services. “Shetty is overseeing the activities of the corporation, as we need his assistance to streamline the administration in the CSTC,” he added.
CPM legislator from Belgachhia (West), Rajdeo Goala, who led Friday’s Citu delegation to the chief minister, asserted that there was no need of appointing a retired person from Bangalore, for the CSTC had a number of in-house experts. Saha said a fresh agitation demanding Shetty’s ouster will begin soon.
Citu will not hesitate to agitate against the government “if attempts are made to make our engineers sit idle”, Goala said.