India

Second Bengal Minister Quits, Mamata Banerjee Says "No Misunderstanding"

Second Bengal Minister Quits, Mamata Banerjee Says

Laxmi Ratan Shukla quit as minister in the Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee

Highlights

  • Laxmi Ratan Shukla has stepped down as Minister of State for Sports
  • His resignation comes ahead of state elections in Bengal
  • In his letter, he said he wants to return to sports
Kolkata:

Trinamool Congress MLA and minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla has resigned from his post in the government and the party to pursue a career in cricket, a decision that comes just months ahead of the assembly election in West Bengal and weeks after a senior minister, Suvendu Adhikari, quit the party and joined the BJP along with a dozen other MLAs.

The 39-year-old former batsman who joined politics in 2016 to contest on a Trinamool ticket from Howrah North seat wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today, saying he wished to quit politics and return to cricket once again.

He requested that he be relieved from all posts in the party and the government.

"I have requested the governor to accept his resignation," Ms Banerjee said. "Laxmi is a good boy, there is no misunderstanding."

Mr Shukla, the minister of state for sports, was recently given organisational charge by the Trinamool of Howrah urban district. His replacement has already been named.

BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh mocked Ms Banerjee, saying, "Her wickets are filling every day." "Those who have breakfast with her are quitting the party in the afternoon," Mr Ghosh said at a rally in Bhatar. He named another minister from Howrah, Rajib Banerjee, whose recent comments about Trinamool have triggered speculation about political plans.

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The BJP is the biggest challenge to Ms Banerjee and her party in the upcoming election. Her party's most recent troubles started with the exit of her longtime colleague Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP in December.

At the joining, Home Minister Amit Shah had said, "Didi would be left alone by the time polls come".

With a raft of local leaders joining the BJP, the party is priming itself to replace Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in this year's election. Suvendu Adhikari's youngest brother, too, had switched sides and joined the BJP. Soumendu Adhikari was a councillor and chairperson of a municipality in East Midnapore district. At least a dozen other party councillors joined the BJP with him last week. Two other members of the Adhikari family are still Trinamool MPs - Suvendu Adhikari's father Sisir and brother Dibyendul.

At the launch of the Trinamool's election campaign last month, Ms Banerjee had said leaders who have left the party at a critical time did so after profiting from the party's success but failing to remain loyal.

"We will stand with people and fight with them. That is our promise. Who is bigger than who in the party should not be the issue. After profiting from the party for 10 years, after profiting from being part of the government, to hobnob with this and that party... I will not tolerate such people," Ms Banerjee had said.