A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to West Bengal the forest minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, Rajib Banerjee, on Friday resigned from his post as well as MLA of the Trinamool Congress.
However, he had not left the party till yet. He has been sulking against the party leadership since early last month. Hinting at electoral strategist Prashant Kishor and Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee he in December last had said that the old and loyal leaders and workers are not getting due respect in the Trinamool Congress.
Though Modi’s visit is not political in nature and was organised by the Ministry of Culture on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose yet the timing of Rajib’s deserting the party is significant.
Some state BJP leaders are likely to meet Modi during his visit on Jan 23. Trinamool Congress sources said that Rajib was among the sitting MLAs about to be dropped by the TMC; that is why he had resigned.
As Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to undertake a two-day visit to Bengal on Jan 30-31 there is likelihood that some leaders of the Trinamool Congress, Left Front and Congress may join the BJP. Rajib, who was unhappy ever since he was shunted out from the irrigation portfolio in 2018, may too join the saffron party on that occasion. He is thus the third minister in Mamata’s cabinet to quit.
Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari and Sports minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla had left the Cabinet earlier.