MAINTAINING THAT he needs “rectification”, the CPM State Committee on Tuesday recommended punishment for party MP Ritabrata Banerjee, who was suspended in June for leading a “lavish lifestyle”. The decision to punish Banerjee was taken at the end of a two-day state committee meeting of CPM, which concluded on Tuesday.
A Rajya Sabha MP, Banerjee was suspended from the CPM on June 2 for three months and a three-member internal inquiry committee — led by MP Mohammad Salim — set up to look into the allegations. The committee had submitted its report to the state committee on August 2. Sources said the committee had found prima facie evidence that some allegations against Banerjee were true.
On Monday, the matter was taken up at the party state committee meeting. Sources said members were divided on whether to expel Banerjee from the party or remove him from the state committee.
“Banerjee is a young leader and his performance in Parliament has been appreciated by all of us. We do not want the ultimate punishment (expulsion from party) for him as per the party constitution. But there will be punitive measures taken against him. The final decision will be taken by the central committee. But he must get some punishment for his own rectification,” CPM state Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said.
“After considering the committee’s report and listening to Banerjee’s response regarding the allegations, the state committee has given credence to the report. The committee also feels that he needs rectification,” he added. Mishra said Banerjee will remain suspended from the party till the party’s central committee takes a final decision. “He will continue to perform as a Rajya Sabha MP according to the directions of the party and will also look after party’s district level activities,” Mishra said.
Banerjee had sparked off a controversy in February after he allegedly wrote to a private company, asking it to take action against its employee who had questioned his lifestyle. This was after he had posted a photograph of himself on Facebook sporting an Apple watch and a Mont Blanc Pen. After a Democratic Youth Federation of India (CPM youth wing) member questioned on Facebook how a communist leader can sport such expensive gadgets, Banerjee allegedly wrote to the company where he was employed and demanded disciplinary action against him.
The CPM state committee had then publicly criticised Banerjee and cautioned him.
Banerjee is the former general secretary of SFI. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal in February, 2014. He had attended South Point High School in Kolkata and has BA and MA degrees in English from Calcutta University.
He has been accused of leading Left youth workers to harass state Finance Minister Amit Mitra in New Delhi. Under Banerjee’s leadership, a demonstration was organised outside the office of the Planning Commission in April, 2013 where Mitra and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were present. Mitra was heckled by SFI members there and Banerjee was seen in video footages raising slogans against Mitra. Later, Banerjee had apologised for his conduct.