Kolkata, January 29
Hours after quitting as the MLA of the West Bengal Assembly, Rajib Banerjee on Friday resigned from the primary membership of the TMC, intensifying speculation that he might soon switch over to the BJP.
He sent his resignation letter to TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, thanking her for the opportunities given to him to serve the people of the state.
“I do hereby tender my resignation as a member of the All India Trinamool Congress as well as from all other positions held by me in the party and its associates with immediate effect,” Banerjee, who had stepped down from the state cabinet last week, wrote in his resignation letter.
The former forest minister, after ending his two-decade-old relationship with the TMC, said he would always value the time he spent as a member of the party.
Earlier in the day, the former forest minister, who represented the Domjur Assembly seat, visited the state assembly in the morning and submitted his resignation to Speaker Biman Banerjee.
“I have resigned as MLA of the state assembly. I have submitted my resignation letter to the speaker. I thank my party supremo Mamata Banerjee for providing me with an opportunity to serve the masses,” he said.
Replying to a query about chances of his switchover to the BJP, Banerjee said, “If you want to serve the masses, you need to be associated with a political party. People always want a politician to be associated with a party. But I have not spoken with BJP leaders so far”.
He, however, stressed that he will “continue to serve the people of my constituency in the days to come”.
Incidentally, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Banerjee’s home district Howrah on January 31.
Extending his gratitude to the chief minister, the former minister said, “Mamata Banerjee is like a mother figure to me. I am indebted to her for providing me with this platform… This is an emotional moment for me”.
Joining the growing list of dissenters who have put the ruling camp in a tight spot ahead of the assembly elections, Banerjee last week put in his papers as the cabinet minister and said he was forced to take this decision after being publicly humiliated by a section of the party’s leaders for airing his grievances over their style of functioning.
He is the third minister to quit the state cabinet in the last two months after Suvendu Adhikari, who crossed over to the BJP, and Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who expressed his desire to quit politics.
The TMC leadership, over the past one month, held several rounds of dialogue with Banerjee to address his grievances. State parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee and the party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor had met the leader and tried to pacify him.
According to TMC sources, he had been having differences over various issues with the district chairman of Howrah and state minister Arup Roy.
Banerjee, a popular mass leader in Howrah, influences eight of the 16 assembly seats in the district.
Elections to the 294-member assembly are likely to be held in April-May this year. — PTI