Updated: July 6, 2021 12:53:56 am
Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and former Congress MP Abhijit Mukherjee joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday, and said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the “most credible secular leader in the country” at present.
Sources in the TMC said Mukherjee had met party MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee to finalise his plan to join the ruling party. He was inducted into the party at the Trinamool Bhavan here at an event around 4 pm in the presence of party MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and state minister Partha Chatterjee.
“I would like to thank Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee for giving me this opportunity. I came from one Congress to another Congress. Didi [Mamata] succeeded in halting the BJP juggernaut in West
Bengal. She is the most credible secular leader in the country who can fight and defeat the communal BJP. We are sure of resisting the saffron camp across India in the future,” Mukherjee said.
The former MP, who was the state Congress’ campaign committee head in the recent Assembly elections, criticised his former party’s decision to ally with the Left. “Because of this alliance, the Congress could not win a single seat. The Pradesh Congress was not utilising me in any manner. I was being bypassed for every political programme. I thought it fit to join the Trinamool because Mamata Banerjee has clearly emerged as the most trusted face against the BJP. I am a disciplined soldier and I will work on the instruction of my captain.”
Mukherjee, however, was all praise for former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “He is a gentleman and he actually wants the Congress to survive. Unfortunately, the Congress party is not utilising his thoughts and vision in the right direction. In Bengal, the way the Congress party is functioning is not acceptable,” added the former MP.
Mukherjee said he recently called up Mamata Banerjee to express his willingness to join the ruling party, and also “urged her to name a road and a park in my father’s name in Bengal”. He said he was in touch with the TMC chief and Abhishek Banerjee before the elections but did not join then as it would have been construed as a move made for some post.
“I don’t hanker for any post. I am a grassroots worker. I did not have any post in the Congress but only had its primary membership, which is lapsable every three years. Now, I have become a primary member of the TMC and it is up to the party to use my services the way it wants,” he added.
Partha Chatterjee said the party hoped to utilise Mukherjee’s political acumen to ensure a “BJP-free India”.
“We are inducting Pranab da’s son Abhijit into the TMC with Mamata Banerjee’s consent. He had expressed interest to join the party through Abhishek Banerjee. We would like to use his services appropriately to fight the communal, undemocratic and fascist forces. He is the son of Pranab Mukherjee, who was our source of inspiration on many matters and mentored us on many occasions. He was a politician with deep roots in secular and progressive values,” said the minister.
Reacting to Abhijit’s switch to the ruling party, state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury said, “In the morning, he resigned from all the posts in the Congress party. I didn’t have a word with him. What can I say about his resignation from the Congress party? Anyone can join any party, I have nothing to comment here.”
Asked about his sister Sharmistha Mukherjee, the former MP said, “She is an independent person. That has always been the tradition of our family. My father had never influenced me to join Congress.”
Sharmistha reacted to her brother’s decision with a tweet that just said, “SAD!!!”
Mukherjee is an engineer-turned politician who was elected to the state Assembly in 2011 from Nalhati in Birbhum. Subsequently, he won twice from the Jangipur parliamentary constituency in Murshidabad district. He won it for the first time in a bypoll in 2012 after his father became the thirteen President of India and vacated the seat. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he retained the seat by defeating CPI(M) candidate Muzaffar Hussain by 8,161 votes. In 2019, he lost the seat to the TMC.
Mukherjee said he did not deserve credit for winning Nalhati in the landmark 2011 elections as his victory was due to the Mamata Banerjee wave that toppled the Left Front from power after three decades. Last month, the former MP had dismissed rumours of his joining TMC after a meeting with former Congress colleagues now in the TMC. They included Jangipur MP Khalilur Rahman, Murshidabad MP Abu Taher Khan, and ministers Akhrruzzaman and Sabina Yesmin.
With PTI inputs
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