West Bengal Minister of State for Youth Services and Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Tuesday resigned from his post, reported PTI. This came days after the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress saw several defections to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Assembly elections.
Shukla reportedly sent his resignation to the chief minister and a copy to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. However, he will continue as an MLA, Banerjee said. Shukla had joined the TMC before the 2016 Assembly elections.
On being asked about the resignation, Banerjee said, according to ANI: “Anyone can resign. He [Laxmi Ratan Shukla] wrote in his resignation letter that he wants to give more time to sports and will continue as an MLA. Don’t take it in a negative way.”
The former captain of West Bengal’s Ranji Trophy team is an important figure in TMC’s unit in Howrah district. From the same unit, another minister Rajib Banerjee and Bally MLA Baishali Dalmia have gone against the party line, with speculations about their imminent exit from the TMC, reported The Indian Express.
Following the news of Shukla’s decision, senior TMC leader Saugata Roy called the decision “unfortunate”. “I am very hurt with his decision,” he added, according to the newspaper. “I don’t know what made him do this. He was a very good cricketer and good human being. If he had some problems within the party, he should have talked with the leadership. However, this is a Cabinet issue. Mamata Banerjee will take a call on this.”
Meanwhile, BJP’s Information and Technology unit’s national in charge Amit Malviya tweeted: “The meltdown in TMC continues...Besides resigning from this ministerial position, Laxmi Ratan Shukla has also resigned from the post of President-Howrah district, TMC. Meanwhile, another minister Rajib Banerjee has skipped meeting with Partha Chatterjee, Pishi’s close aide!” Pishi is a Bengali term, meaning aunt, that the saffron party has used to refer to the chief minister.
Political turmoil began for the TMC after former state minister and a close associate of Banerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, quit from the party. After a long drawn period of public dissatisfaction with the ruling Trinamool Congress, Adhikari joined the BJP during Shah’s two-day visit to West Bengal on December 19. Earlier, he resigned from all the positions he held in the Trinamool Congress on December 17. This came a day after he resigned as a member of the Legislative Assembly and almost 20 days after he resigned as West Bengal transport minister. He had quit from the post of chairperson of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners too.
Ever since he joined the BJP, Adhikari has launched a wave of criticism against Banerjee and her government. On December 25, he asserted that the BJP will win more than 200 seats in the Assembly elections in the state next year. Two days later, he said he was “ashamed” of the fact that he was associated to the Trinamool Congress for so many years. The politician expressed his happiness about how he was now a member of a “nationalist, pluralist, disciplined and patriotic party” like the BJP.