Kolkata, Sep 25: Brushing aside criticism over their continuation on various railway panels, pro-Trinamool Congress intellectuals Tuesday said they will continue to be members till new panels are formed.
Painter Shuvaprasanna, who heads the Railways Passenger Amenities Committee, even chaired a scheduled panel meeting.
Painter Samir Aich, film directors Gautam Ghose and Haranath Chakrabarty and singer Pallab Kirtanya are also members of the panel.
The party’s exit from the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has put a question mark over the fate of the committees constituted when the Trinamool Congress held the railway portfolio.
When Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee joined the UPA in 2009 and took charge of the railway ministry, she constituted several committees and inducted in them several intellectuals considered close to her.
The committees were retained during the tenures of the next two railway ministers, Dinesh Trivedi and Mukul Roy, who too were from the Trinamool.
“These committees have a specific tenure. Now a new railway minister has taken charge. He will surely form new committees. So until and unless new committees are formed, we are there. There is no question of stepping down as we are there to serve the nation,” Shuvaprasanna said.
“Today I have chaired the meeting of the committee. We have stressed on various issues regarding security and better comfort of railway passengers. I can assure that the steps our committee has taken are unique,” he said.
Thespian Bibhas Chakraborty is a member of another railway committee.
“The railway ministry is a part of the union government. There is no logic in the demand for our resignations. If a specific party that has formed such committees decides to withdraw support to the government, it doesn’t means that these committees should be closed down,” said Chakraborty.
Incidentally, both Chakraborty and Shuvaprasana gave these statements on the sidelines of a protest rally by pro-Trinamool intellectuals against the central government’s decision to allow FDI in retail.
Congress MP Adhir Choudhury though said the artistes were adopting double standards.
“They are protesting against the government over retail FDI but are continuing in the railway committees and receiving all kinds of benefits. They have done nothing positive for the railways,” he said.
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.