Four skip Mamata Banerjee's cabinet meeting, spark speculations of resignations
Four cabinet ministers skipped the meeting convened by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, triggering speculations that more resignations could hit Trinamool Congress. Rajib Banerjee, Rabindranath Ghosh, Gautam Deb, and Chandranath Sinha didn't attend the meeting. Besides Banerjee, who is the Forest Minister, all three offered reasonable explanations, sparking chatter that he might be thinking to quit the ruling party.
Banerjee, an MLA from Domjur, has been vocal about his grievances for a few weeks now. In November, he said nepotism was rampant within the party and that "yes men" were climbing up the ladder, a fact that caused disappointment to him. He made these remarks during a public gathering. Earlier this month, he claimed hard-working people were neglected in Trinamool.
Thereafter, on Monday, he had a meeting with General Secretary Partha Chatterjee, where he reportedly discussed his concerns. Later, he told the media to not equate his situation with that of Suvendu Adhikari, a Trinamool heavyweight who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last week. "He has his personal views, I have my personal views. There is no relation between our standpoints," he had said.
"Being a disciplined soldier of the party I will not publicly say anything in this regard. I had previously visited Partha Da's residence in the past. I visited again after being called by the leadership. Not much should be read into it," he had said.
Considering Banerjee's recent statements, his absence from the meeting was bound to raise suspicions. He could not be contacted until late evening. A Trinamool member told NIE, "After our party's former strongman Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP, a similar move by Banerjee was doing the rounds. So, the absence of Banerjee, who resides near the state secretariat, in the cabinet meeting is significant politically."
Ghosh, reports said, recently tested positive for coronavirus and is staying away from administrative duties. He also didn't leave his constituency as the state government's new project Duare Sarkar is underway there. Tourism Minister Deb, one of the most trusted lieutenants of CM Banerjee, also skipped the meeting over COVID-19 concerns. He is reportedly in North Bengal.
The third absentee, Sinha, who handles the Fisheries Ministry, was overseeing preparations in Bolpur, where the CM will pay a visit between December 28-29. "I am very much with the Trinamool and I will be with the party. There is no question of shifting my political alignment," he was quoted by TNIE. To recall, over 30 people ditched Trinamool last week to join BJP.
As is known, the Trinamool rebels turned saffron in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who visited Bengal last week. Taking potshots at the Bengal CM, he had said, "Why are so many people leaving Trinamool Congress? Because of the misrule, corruption, and nepotism of Mamata Banerjee. Didi, this is just the beginning. By the time elections come, you will be left all."