Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress's exit from the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has put question mark over the fate of committees constituted when that party held the railways portfolio.
When Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee joined the UPA in 2009 and took charge of the railway ministry, she constituted some committees and also inducted several intellectuals considered close to her into existing committees.
The committees were retained during the tenures of the next two railway ministers, who too were from the Trinamool Congress - Dinesh Trivedi and Mukul Roy.
Now that Banerjee and Trinamool have walked out of the UPA, some argue that the pro-Banerjee intellectuals must resign on moral grounds. The members of these official committees are entitled to many financial benefits.
"Why are they continuing when their benefactor (Banerjee) is gone? All these posts fall under 'office of profit' and they must immediately resign on moral grounds," Congress Parliamentarian Adhir Chowdhury said.
Banerjee's close aide and painter, Shuvaprasanna heads the Railways Passenger Amenities Committee, which has fellow painter Samir Aich, film director Haranath Chakrabarty and singer Pallab Kirtanya as members.
The Passengers Amenities Committee has, among others the critically acclaimed film director Gautam Ghose too as a member.
There are those who hold that committee membership is no political favour: "These committees and their members are not a result of anybody's benevolence. The committees are constituted through gazette notification by Parliament. And members are not affiliated to any political party," Shuvaprasanna told IANS.
Shuvaprasanna said, "I was asked to give my services for the welfare of the community and if I step down before my tenure ends, wouldn't that be a disservice?"
The painter claimed that he did not avail of any financial benefits from the post.
"It is now for Parliament to decide if they want to renew my term, which is due to expire in a few months," said the acclaimed painter.
Among the committees constituted under Banerjee is the Heritage and Cultural Committee which has actress Saoli Mitra and theatre personality Arpita Ghosh as members.
The financial benefits attached with the posts include a monthly honorarium of Rs.10,000 to the head of the committee and Rs.8,000 per month to members.
Other perks include free travel, and food and lodging when members make official trips.
Refusing to step down, Aich questioned the intentions of those demanding his resignation.
"How is morality attached to being a member of the committee? Moreover, who is Adhir Chowdhury to decide what is my moral obligation," Aich asked.
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