Kolkata: Igniting yet more speculation, months ahead of the assembly polls, West Bengal minister of sports and youth affairs Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Tuesday tendered his resignation from the post.
In a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the former cricketer wrote that he wants to devote more time to cricket; however, he will continue to be MLA till the term ends.
The former cricketer was inducted in the TMC in 2016 and had contested from Howrah North seat; he had won by a margin of 30,000 votes against BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly.
The TMC is also grappling with discontent in the local Howrah unit as another minister, Rajib Banerjee, and the MLA from Bally constituency and daughter of Jagmohan Dalmia, Baishali Dalmia, have spoken out about the internal workings of the party.
Sources in the ruling Trinamool Congress said that the senior leadership is in talks with these disgruntled leaders, so that they do not walk out. According to BJP sources, all these leaders are likely to cross over to the saffron camp.
“Not just those resigning now, but there are several heavyweight leaders who are willing to join the BJP once Union home minister Amit Shah visits the state,” said sources. (Shah is arriving for a 2day visit on January 30.)
Accepting the resignation, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, “I have requested the governor to accept his resignation. Laxmi is a good boy, there is no misunderstanding with him.”
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy described the resignation as sad and wanted the party to retain him.
Talking to Free Press Journal, former India batsman and a key member of Bengal cricket team, Manoj Tiwary, said his former cricket mate has been taking regular interest in the sport. “He was at the CAB when the Bengal team was preparing for the T20 tournament. We merely exchanged pleasantries as these days we do not get enough time to meet,” said Manoj.
Former Bengal captain and Team India selector, Sambaran Banerjee, who has seen Laxmi Ratan Shukla develop as a cricketer feels it is a personal decision of the minister and it will benefit the sport.
Mocking the TMC Supremo, West Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh said, “Mamata Banerjee’s wickets are falling every day. Those who are having breakfast with her are quitting the party in the afternoon.”