KOLKATA: Controversial CPM Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee was expelled from the party Wednesday after he claimed that the politburo has a quota for Muslims and accused the central leadership of being ‘anti-Bengali’.
After a meeting at the party headquarters, the West Bengal state committee sent a letter to the central committee seeking approval to expel Banerjee. The central committee’s approval is needed as Banerjee is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP of the party.
“Someone had to bell the cat. I have been an SFI national general secretary for eight long years and was in the party since 1996. Expelling me from the party is like cutting off my umbilical cord. I cannot think of anything other than CPM. Several state leaders are with me. I will rise and take on the expulsion head on. The red flag is not the fiefdom of any individual or group,” he said while breaking down in front of the media.
Speaking on the expulsion, West Bengal Assembly Left Front leader Sujan Chakraborty said some people misuse the freedom given by the party. Speculation was rife that Banerjee may move over to the BJP. There have been rumours of Banerjee meeting BJP state president Dilip Ghosh at a Kolkata hotel.
The expulsion came after Banerjee, in an explosive interview with a Bengali news channel Tuesday night, claimed that CPM Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim was nominated to the politburo because he was a Muslim. “Why should there be quotas for Muslim and women in the politburo of a communist party? Mohammad Salim became politburo member on the basis of his religion,” Banerjee said.
Mohammad Salim heads a committee formed to look into the alleged lavish lifestyle of Banerjee, who came under scrutiny for his Mont Blanc pen and Apple watch in January. “The past 90 days of the committee probe have been the most hellish days of my life. Mohammad Salim and his son Russel Aziz indulged in malicious campaign against me on social media.
The committee even hacked my account details and got hold of my bank statement and questioned me based on that. I have given a formal complaint to finance minister Arun Jaitley on August 11 for hacking my bank details. I will take legal action against the committee as well,” he said.
“The kangaroo committee had hanged me even before the trial commenced. The party mouthpiece pronounced the result of the trial even before it started. To expose the eyewash of the trial, I had secretly taped the proceedings of the committee,” he added. Mohammad Salim said: “Such doubts and questions are raised by Hindutva proponents BJP and RSS. No communist would make such allegations.”