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P. Chidambaram heckled by Congress workers outside Calcutta High Court for trying to ‘save Trinamool’ in the Metro Dairy disinvestment case

Published : May 04, 2022 21:04 IST T+T-
Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram.

Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram.

Former Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram found himself at the receiving end of the anger of Congress workers when he appeared in his capacity as a lawyer for a private company in the Metro Dairy disinvestment case in the Calcutta High Court. The public interest litigation (PIL) case was filed by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, president, West Bengal Pradesh Congress, and leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha. Chowdhury had alleged that there was a lack of transparency in the State government’s divestment of 47 per cent of its stake in Metro Dairy in 2017 to Keventer Agro Ltd.

On May 4, as Chidambaram stepped out of the Calcutta High Court premises, lawyers and activists owning allegiance to the Congress accosted him, shouting slogans and calling him a “tout” who was working against the interest of his own party. Addressing the media, Congress leader and lawyer Kaustav Bagchi said: “He [Chidambaram] is calling it professionalism; but the fact is that the petitioner here is Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and the allegation is that crores of money belonging to the people has been stolen with Cabinet approval…”

Accusing Chidambaram of trying to save the State government, Bagchi said: “In a State where thousands of Congress workers are being attacked on a daily basis by Trinamool, a Congress leader is coming to that State to defend Trinamool. We have condemned this and have told Chidambaram that because of tout leaders like him, the State Congress is not being able stand on its feet.”

While Pradesh Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury chose not to comment on Chidambaram wanting the petition quashed, he, nevertheless, maintained that he would move the Supreme Court if necessary.

Metro Dairy was the first public-private venture in West Bengal in which the State government controlled 47 per cent of the stake through the West Bengal Milk Producers Federation. The Centre, through the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), held 10 per cent and the remaining 43 per cent lay with Keventer Agro Ltd. In 2017, the State government sold off its 47 per cent to Keventer Agro Ltd., reportedly for Rs.85 crore. Soon after that, Keventer Agro Ltd., which had become the sole owner of the company as the Centre had already sold off its 10 per cent share to it, sold 15 per cent of its stake to a Singapore-based company for Rs.135 crore.