Bengal minister quits post; Mamata says he wants to return to sports

Laxmi Ratan Shukla's resignation came almost a fortnight after Suvendu Adhikari left TMC to join BJP

Laxmi Ratan Shukla
Laxmi Ratan Shukla | File Photo: Social media

In a fresh exit, West Bengal’s Sports Minister and former cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Tuesday resigned from the post, raising speculations in view of the numerous defections to the BJP that the Trinamool Congress saw in the past few weeks. But Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Shukla had resigned since he wanted to give more time to sports.

Shukla, who represents the Howrah (Uttar) assembly constituency, had sent his resignation letter to the chief minister and a copy of it to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, said sources in the state secretariat. His resignation came almost a fortnight after state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari had left the party and joined BJP.

Former captain of the Bengal Ranji team, the 39-year-old Shukla had joined TMC ahead of 2016 elections and won. Officials said that the former cricketer, in his resignation letter, has expressed his willingness to “retire” from politics. Shukla, who was looking after the TMC’s affairs in Howrah district, however, has not given up his post as an MLA, they added.

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Commenting on Shukla’s resignation, Banerjee said there’s no misunderstanding and that Shukla will continue as an MLA. “Anyone can resign. He wrote in his resignation letter that he wants to give more time to sports and will continue as an MLA. Don’t take it in negative way,” said the chief minister.

The TMC has been witnessing large scale defections to the saffron camp in the past one month, the most worrisome of which was that of Suvendu Adhikari, who was the face of Nandigram movement that catapulted Banerjee to power in 2011. Besides, several other MLAs, councillors, leaders and even an MP had jumped ship since then.