KOLKATA: With the assembly elections coming closer, ruling TMC’s concerns are growing. On Friday, minister of forest affairs Rajib Banerjee stepped down from the cabinet, handing over his resignation to governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. Soon after, MLA Baishali Dalmiya was expelled from the party for speaking in favour of Banerjee.
Speculation is rife that Banerjee will join BJP, like Suvendu Adhikari did a few weeks earlier. Even though chief minister Mamata Banerjee and other TMC leaders have termed these defections insignificant, they are certain to boost BJP’s morale. A few days ago, sports minister LR Shukla had announced his resignation.
This is to inform you that I am resigning as the Minister in Charge, Department of Forest, West Bengal from today. pic.twitter.com/dfVq6aVxUj— Rajib Banerjee (@RajibBaitc) January 22, 2021
There was drama over Banerjee’s stepping down. He had submitted his resignation letter to the chief minister’s office, but it was not accepted because Banerjee had also handed over a copy of the letter to the governor. Sources in the state secretariat said the chief minister dismissed Banerjee from her cabinet instead of accepting his resignation letter.
Close on the heels of this came more drama. Daughter of late cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, Baishali is an MLA from the Bally constituency in Howrah district. She expressed solidarity with Banerjee by saying, “Banerjee’s quitting is unfortunate. He is an efficient administrator.’’ The TMC’s disciplinary committee responded by throwing her out of the party.
Banerjee did not rule out joining BJP. “I want to work for the people. I don’t know what platform I will get,” he said. Banerjee broke into tears while explaining his decision. He alleged that the chief minister did not show courtesy while shifting him from one department to another. “After spending two days in north Bengal, I returned to Kolkata and was in the party office.
I came to know from TV I was removed to the forest department. I wanted to resign but the chief minister stopped me. In the last few weeks, I expressed discontent on several occasions. Statements from a section of my colleagues, attacking me personally, were painful and prompted me to take this decision.”