Tribune News Service
Kolkata, January 5
West Bengal minister of state for sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned from the council of ministers and also quit the post of president of Howrah Town Committee of TMC on Tuesday triggering off speculations about his joining the BJP.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, said that Shukla, a reputed cricketer, wrote to her saying he wanted to be relieved from his political and administrative responsibilities as he wanted to focus on sporting activities.
“I have no issue with him. I have given direction that his resignation be accepted. He wants to concentrate on sports and he has our best wishes. He is going to continue as a TMC MLA,” Banerjee told reporters here at an event.
Shukla is the second minister to step down from the Mamata-led council of ministers.
Earlier, Suvendu Adhikari, who was transport and irrigation minister in the Mamata cabinet, resigned from his post and joined the BJP in less than a month’s time after severing all connection with the TMC.
Shukla, too, has been invited by the BJP to join the party. BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said Shukla would be given the respect he deserved if he joined the BJP. West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the new year would see an exodus of people from TMC.
Interestingly, WBPCC chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, also said that Shukla was welcome to join the Congress.
“Our doors are always open for him,” Chowdhury said.
Following Shukla’s resignation, Baishali Dalmia, TMC MLA and daughter of the late BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmia, also opened up with regard to problems she was facing in TMC.
Baishali, whose recent meeting with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar raised eyebrows, told a TV channel that while CPI(M) and BJP left her alone, it was the functionaries of her own party TMC who did not tire of creating obstacles for her, she said.
Baishali, whose constituency Bally is adjacent to Shukla’s constituency Howrah Uttar, said she could well understand the circumstances under which Shukla decided to put in his papers.
At least 13 legislators have left TMC and joined BJP since December. With the assembly elections slated to be held in the state early next year, the exodus does not augur well for the party.
In a related development, Rajib Bandopadhyay, the disgruntled West Bengal forest minister, skipped his scheduled meeting with education minister and TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee.
The meeting was arranged to placate Bandopadhyay who is said to be upset about corruption and nepotism by some leaders in Howrah district where he represents the Domjur assembly seat.