West Bengal Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee today resigned from his position. The cabinet minister did not cite any reasons for his decision and his move comes amid a recent string of exits from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress as the state heads for Assembly elections in March-April.
“I 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 22nd of January, 2021,” Mr Banerjee said in his letter to the Chief Minister. He is the third minister to resign from the state government in one month.
His resignation comes days after he had complained about “some leaders in the Trinamool Congress (TMC)” carrying out propaganda against him. He had struck several discordant notes against the government and the party over for past two months. Senior TMC leader and minister Partha Chatterjee had held at least two rounds of talks with him.
“There are a few leaders in the party who only exploit workers. They run false propaganda against me using some party workers,” he said on January 16 during a Facebook Live session, according to an ANI report. He, however, did not reveal any names.
Poll-bound West Bengal is going through political turmoil, especially with an exodus of leaders and workers from the ruling TMC to the BJP in recent months.
In December, another West Bengal Cabinet Minister Suvendu Adhikari quit the government and the Trinamool Congress following an extended period of uncertainty, only to immediately join the BJP. He was followed by a large number of other TMC functionaries and leaders.
On January 5, Minister of State for Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned. He, however, has not quit as MLA or from the party.
The national party, meanwhile, is investing considerable time and energy, looking to replace the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool government of the state.
Party heavyweights such as President JP Nadda and Union Minister Amit Shah have been regularly visiting the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, will be in Kolkata over the coming weekend.
While there has been no formal announcement yet, but Mr Banerjee is expected to join the BJP on January 31 when Mr Shah is scheduled to hold a rally in Howrah.