Former sports minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Thursday ruled out joining any political party. He issued the clarification days after quitting the state Cabinet and stepping down as the Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) Howrah district chief.
Shukla, a former India cricketer, told reporters that he wants to quit politics and concentrate on sports. “I am leaving politics for now, so the question of going somewhere doesn’t arise. I have done politics as honestly as I have played cricket. My identity as a cricketer is the most fundamental. For now, I will focus on sports. I will complete my term as MLA…Since I am going to take a break from politics, so the question of joining a party doesn’t arise.”
Following his resignation on January 5, there was speculation that Shukla might move to the BJP like former state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari. But on Thursday he said, “Now I want to focus on sports in a much better manner. I will, however, complete my term as an MLA. Sport is my biggest identity.”
Asked if he was unhappy with the party leadership, the MLA said: “Some reasons should stay within you. I want to take the game as a game and do not want to drag it to the road. Some things shouldn’t be made public.”
After Shukla’s resignation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said, “Laxmi is a good boy. He wrote a letter saying he wants to pursue sports wholeheartedly and wants to be relieved of all responsibilities in the party. There is no question of misunderstanding.”
On Wednesday, Bally MLA Baishali Dalmiya had backed Shukla, saying “there are termites in the TMC who are breaking the party from within”. Shukla was also backed by former Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty.