Bengal Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee quits Cabinet

West Bengal Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee on Friday resigned from the Cabinet.

โ€œI regret to inform you that I hereby tender my resignation from my office as Cabinet Minister being in charge of Forest Department on today, i.e on 22 January 2021,โ€ read his resignation letter sent to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Mr. Banerjee, MLA from Uluberia in Howrah district, also sent a resignation letter to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. Later in the day, he met the Governor at Raj Bhawan.

Mr. Banerjee is the third one to resign from the Council of Ministers in the past two months. Former TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, who held several portfolios including Transport, resigned from the Cabinet in December 2020 and the party and joined the BJP. Former Indian cricketer and Sports Minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned a few weeks ago but has not cleared speculations about his political future.

Also read | Bengal: A year of defections and worsening State-Centre ties

โ€˜Test of patienceโ€™

Mr. Banerjee has been going public with his differences with the party over the past few months. Not only was he absent from several Cabinet meetings in the past few months but also called out against favouritism in the party. On January 16, he took to social media, saying he was going through a test of patience. He had told sources close to him that he will remain active in politics. Speculations are rife that he will join the BJP.

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said there could be differences but that did not mean someone would resign from the Cabinet . Mr. Ghosh, a former Rajya Sabha member, said the reasons cited by Mr. Banerjee were nothing more than โ€œalibiโ€ to switch sides before the Assembly polls. Mr. Banerjee would not be able to win from Uluberia in the coming polls, he added.

BJP State president Dilip Ghosh said Mr. Banerjee was still a TMC MLA and he should quit the party before joining the BJP.

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