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Ritabrata Banerjee formally expelled from CPM

The CPM’s West Bengal State Committee issued a press statement informing the party’s Politburo's approval of the decision to expel its Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee from the party for "grave anti-party activities".

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata | Updated: September 15, 2017 8:31:41 pm
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The CPM’s West Bengal State Committee on Wednesday formally announced the expulsion of its MP Ritabrata Banerjee from the party. Issuing a press statement, the CPM state committee informed that the party’s Politburo has approved its decision to expel its Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee from the party for “grave anti-party activities”.

“As per Article 19 (13) of the party constitution, Ritabrata Banerjee has been expelled from the party for grave anti-party activities. The decision to expel him from the party was taken in a state secretariat meeting on September 13. The party’s Politburo has approved this decision,” read the press statement issued by CPM’s West Bengal State Committee Secretary Surjyakanta Mishra.

On Wednesday, the party’s state secretariat held an emergency meeting and had recommended Ritabrata’s expulsion from the party following his explosive interview with a Bengali news channel where he had criticised party’s Politburo members Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Mohammad Salim. According to party constitution, the state committee cannot implement such a decision against a sitting MP without the approval of its higher body. Therefore, the state committee sent recommendation to party’s Central Committee for approval. As the next Central Committee meeting is due in mid-October, the party’s Politburo decided not to wait for another month and informed its decision to party’s West Bengal State Committee.

“The decision to expel him was taken based on Ritabrata Banerjee’s interview with a television news channel where he had tried to malign the image of the party in the name of an interview,” the statement added.

Article 19 (13) of the party constitution states, “In exceptional circumstances Party Committees in their discretion may resort to summary procedure in expelling members for grave anti-Party activities.”

Banerjee was unavailable for comment as his mobile phone was switched off. He was party’s West Bengal State Committee member and was elected to Rajya Sabha from West Bengal on February 2014. His tenure as Rajya Sabha MP ends in 2020.

In February, the party had censured him for indiscipline following several complaints against him. Later, the CPM West Bengal State Committee had suspended Banerjee for three months on June 2 following allegations several allegations against him and had formed a three-member committee led by party MP Mohammad Salim to probe the allegations. Banerjee was given the Opportunity to speak in his defence. The committee had on August 2 submitted its report to the state committee. The committee had found prima facie evidence of some of the allegations against Banerjee and later found him guilty of committing several offences. He was given further opportunities to rectify his mistakes. “Instead of rectifying his mistakes, he went on maligning the image of the party,” the press statement read.

During his interview with the Bengali news channel, Ritabrata had exposed the bitter relationship between two camps of CPM. He had directly accused Prakash Karat camp of deliberately denying party’s General Secretary Sitaram Yechury the chance to get elected to Rajya Sabha for the third time. Banerjee had also lashed out at party’s Lok Sabha MP and Politburo Member Mohammad Salim, who was heading the three-member probe panel which was set up to look into allegations against him, for framing him in a bid to end his political career.

Ritabrata Banerjee is the former General Secretary of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI). He was made vice president of the West Bengal wing of the SFI in 2005. He became SFI district president in 2003. Banerjee has attended school at South Point High School, Kolkata, and obtained BA and MA degrees in English at Calcutta University. He comes from an upper-middle class family and lives in Jadavpur.

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