Rats on the run have done what Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress hasn't in years ' got the chief minister's secretariat in Writers' Buildings on the hop.
With rodents overrunning the VIP corridors of the state secretariat, nibbling away at telephone lines, computer wires and files, the caretakers of the state's seat of governance are busy playing mouse hunt all night long.
'Cages with traps have been placed in the chambers of the chief minister, the chief secretary and the home secretary at Writers',' said an official of the public works department (PWD), which oversees maintenance at the secretariat.
And Operation Rat has tasted blood. 'Over 40 rats were nabbed from inside the chief minister's secretariat over a span of 35 days this monsoon. Now, we've allotted two cages for the CM's secretariat,' added the official.
The rats don't seem to mind holding the finance portfolio by night, making their presence felt in minister Asim Dasgupta's chamber. Five have been trapped in the chamber over the past month. Last month also saw the rat cabinet digging its teeth into the telephone wires in the office of the director of information, Sukhendu Das.
With complaints pouring in from various departments every day, the PWD caretaker's office is in a rat rage. 'We're asking for six more cages from the department to capture the rodents. Most of the existing 25 cages we have are 'on duty' in various chambers and offices,' said B.P. Karfa, PWD caretaker at Writers'.
PWD minister Amar Chowdhury admitted that rats enjoy a free run at Writers'. 'Rats move around almost everywhere inside the building. We're trying our best to catch them, but traps are not enough,' he said.
The chambers of the chief minister, chief secretary, home secretary, PWD minister, PWD secretary and finance minister apart, the rats seem most at home in the telephone exchange at Writers', the office of the National Informatics Centre, the home (political) department, the state archives office and the Bengali translator's office on the ground floor.
Once captured, the rats are left in the cage in the chamber of the complainant. The 'identification parade' by the official over, the culprit is then taken to the fourth floor rooftop and set free ' or rather, fed to the predators circling the Writers' skies.
If last week the capture count was high ' two rats in the PWD deputy secretary's office and two more in the law secretary's chamber ' on Wednesday, the rats bit the biscuit but not the bait.
'A trap was laid in the home (political) department, but the rats took the biscuit but escaped the trap. Files in the home (police) and jails departments frequently fall prey to the rodents,' complained an official of the jails department.