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Laxmi Ratan Shukla quits Bengal Cabinet amid talk of move to BJP

Sources said Shukla sent his resignation letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and mailed a copy to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | January 6, 2021 3:53:44 am
Former cricketer Laxmiratan Shukla (right) with Mamata Banerjee at a public event.

West Bengal Minister of State for Youth Services and Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Tuesday resigned from his post, and stepped down as Howrah district president of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Sources said Shukla sent his resignation letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and mailed a copy to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. The minister’s resignation came almost a fortnight after state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari left the party and joined the Opposition party. The former Indian cricketer’s decision sparked speculation that he would join the BJP ahead of BJP national president JP Nadda’s visit to the state this month.

However, Mamata Banerjee dismissed speculation that Shukla would also quit the TMC. “He is a very good boy. He wrote in the letter that he wants to concentrate more on cricket. He will continue as MLA. Do not try to speculate. I welcome his decision and I wish him all the best. He is a sportsperson and wants to concentrate on sports and I wish him well.”

The 39-year-old also said he decided to step down as he wants to concentrate on cricket. However, he did not specify if he will resign from the Assembly. Bally MLA Baishali Dalmiya, who has criticised the TMC leadership in recent times, said, “Many people in the party humiliated Laxmi repeatedly. It is very difficult to work in this atmosphere. At a certain point of time, one will be forced to resign.”

Another senior leader in the TMC Howrah unit, state forest minister Rajib Banerjee, has also spoken out against the party.

In the evening, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted, “In view of advice of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, I, Jagdeep Dhankhar, Governor of West Bengal, do hereby order, in exercise of powers vested in me under Constitution, that Shri Laxmi Ratan Shukla ceases to be a member of Council of Ministers with immediate effect.” Dhankhar added, “Further, as per recommendation by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, the charge of the Departments, viz., Youth Services and Sports, would, with immediate effect, vest with Hon’ble Minister Shri Aroop Biswas, in view of powers vested in me under the Constitution.”

Welcoming Shukla’s decision, BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said, “Shukla is a very good man and also a known cricket personality. We will always welcome him if he wants to join the BJP.”

Trinamool MP Saugata Roy said, “This is very unfortunate. Personally, I am very hurt by his decision. I don’t know what made him take this decision. He is a very good cricketer and a good human being. If he had some problems with the party, he should have talked to the leadership. However, this is a Cabinet issue. Mamata Banerjee will take a call.”

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