Amid speculations over his next political move, disgruntled Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee on Saturday said some of his colleagues “misinterpreted” his intention when he tried communicating the problems faced by grassroot workers to the party’s top brass.
Mr Banerjee, during a Facebook Live session, said he was patiently waiting for the time when his grievances, “solely concerning the wellbeing of people”, would be redressed.
The state cabinet minister, who had in the past, too, voiced his anguish against a section of TMC leaders, insisted that “corrective steps” have to be taken to bridge the gap between the party and the people of the state.
“Quite like my party supremo (Mamata Banerjee), I believe in giving respect to ordinary grassroot workers who toil hard for the organisation selflessly. However, if I see that these workers are not getting their due respect… if they are frustrated and pained, I try to communicate their sentiments to the top leadership,” the forest minister said.
Indicating that he had never breached party discipline, as claimed by some, Mr Banerjee said, “Whenever there was an obstacle in the way of my mission, which is to work for betterment of masses, I tried to raise the matter before the party leadership… especially in the recent times. Some of our leaders, however, misinterpreted and distorted my views.”
Pointing out that he always responded to all appeals for talks with the party’s top brass to resolve disputes, the Domjur MLA further asserted that he has “diligently performed the responsibilities” given to him over the years.
Mr Banerjee, who skipped the last few state cabinet meetings citing health reasons, said, “However, I don’t believe in performing my role in accordance with the laid down norms. In a democracy, man is the last word. If I want to play greater roles, serve people in a bigger way, then that space should be given to me.”
Reacting to a comment by a Facebook user, who sought to know if he was “indulging in theatrics” ahead of Assembly polls, due in April-May, Mr Banerjee said “I don’t hanker after any post. My only concern remains development of the people and for the people.”
Voicing concern over “lack of employment opportunities” in the state, the cabinet minister said, “It pains me when I see scores of young men and women leaving Bengal for better jobs outside. Our state has the best talents, best human resources. But we need big investments, big industries.”
Two of Mr Banerjee’s videos at “non-political” programmes had triggered a storm in December, as he was seen suggesting that “some of TMC’s leaders who sit in air-conditioned rooms were getting more importance in the party while hard-working activists in the lower rung were being sidelined”.
State urban development minister Firhad Hakim said Mr Banerjee, instead of going live on social media, should have discussed matters of concern during cabinet meetings.
“If Rajib had any grievances, he could have discussed it during cabinet meetings. He, instead, chose to talk about it on social media,” Mr Hakim stated.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said the disgruntled TMC MLA was welcome to join the saffron party, if he had difficult working in the state’s ruling camp.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)