BJP Bengal: LoP Suvendu Adhikari removed as chairman of the Contai Cooperative Bank Ltd in East Midnapore

News Desk: Suvendu Adhikari, leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, was removed on Monday as chairman of the Contai Cooperative Bank Ltd in East Midnapore, his home district, in an emergency meeting of the bank’s board of directors, bank officials said.

The board members said rules do not permit a chairman to continue for more than three terms, each lasting three years. Adhikari had held the post since 2009.

Adhikari has been under intense scrutiny ever since he switched political allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the April-May assembly polls in which he defeated chief minister Mamata Banerjee at his Nandigram seat.

In June, the state government started probing the operations of several cooperative banks where Adhikari held a position in the managing board. Banerjee then alleged financial irregularities in several cooperative banks and claimed money was stashed in accounts held against fake names.

Adhikari got some relief on July 16 when the Calcutta high court ordered that an inspection of the book of accounts of Contai Co-operative Bank Ltd could be carried out by the state but no special audit will be allowed without the court’s permission.

The special audit was ordered by the state government on June 12 and the bank’s board, which was then headed by Adhikari, challenged the order in court. The bank’s lawyer told the court that only the Reserve Bank of India had the power to conduct any audit.

In her July 16 order, justice Sampa Sarkar, said the reasons for the special audit had not been disclosed in the notice issued to the bank, and allowed an inspection with regard to non-compliances detected in the statutory audit report for 2019-20. She also asked the bank to cooperate with the state.

Adhikari’s removal from the bank’s board triggered a political slugfest on Tuesday.

While Adhikari did not comment on the issue, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “Under the TMC regime, even God will be made to look like a demon if he leaves the ruling party. This is vindictive politics. Adhikari will seek legal recourse.”

Akhil Giri, state fisheries minister and Adhikari’s archrival in East Midnapore, said, “The court said that inspection of records can be carried out. How can it be done with Adhikari continuing as the chairman? Hence, he was removed from the board by the other members.”