In a blow to the Trinamool Congress’s plans to project younger leaders in the assembly polls due in a few months, former Indian cricketer and Bengal minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Tuesday resigned from the party where he served as president of the Howrah district unit.
Shukla is a legislator from Howrah district and served as minister of state for sports and youth affairs.
Amid rumours that Shukla too might join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) like former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari, chief minister Mamata Banerjee made the first official comment on the sudden development while addressing a media conference in the afternoon.
“Laxmi is a good boy. He wrote a letter saying he wants to pursue sports wholeheartedly and wants to be relieved of all responsibilities in the party. He did not talk of resigning from the ministry. But we have accepted his resignation and written to the governor that he may be relieved as minster. Laxmi has said that he will continue to be a member of the legislative assembly till its current term comes to an end,” said Banerjee.
“It is good that he wants to pursue sports. He said he wants to give more time to sports. That’s why he wants to leave politics. There is nothing more to this. He has our best wishes. There is no place for misunderstanding here. You (the media) try to make something out of every information,” said Banerjee.
Shukla, who was born and brought up in Howrah district, avoided the media and did not make any comment.
Saugata Roy, TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson said, “Laxmi is a nice man. I never heard he had any grievance against the party.”
Samik Bhattacharya, chief spokesperson of the Bengal BJP, did not say whether Shukla would join his party. “It is difficult for any person with strong principles to stay in the TMC. We are not surprised,” he said.
Incidentally, Shukla is the second young minster from Howrah district to make news. Since October, forest minister Rajib Banerjee has been raising his voice against a section of leaders and avoiding government and party meetings.
Shukla was a middle-order batsman and a medium pacer for the Indian team. He played for the Bengal cricket team as well as for the Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi in IPL matches.