West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday lashed out at Trinamool Congress turncoat Rajib Banerjee during an election rally in the Domjur constituency, calling him “Gaddar Mir Jafar” and apologising to the people for letting him contest from the seat in the 2016 assembly polls. The former TMC leader is a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from the same constituency this time. The saffron party responded to the CM’s remarks, saying she knows the Trinamool’s days in Bengal are numbered.
At the public meeting, Mamata also accused Rajib of malfeasance. “I came across corruption charges against him when he was the irrigation minister. It was some money-related issue. I immediately removed him from the ministry,” she said, alleging that Rajib had then asked her to move him to another department so he could keep making money.
Domjur in Howrah district will have polling in the fourth of eight phases of the assembly elections, on April 10. Counting will take place on May 2.
“I would like to apologise before the people of Domjur for giving tickets to a ‘Gaddar Mir Jafar’ (a commander of Bengal’s nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah’s army who betrayed him before the British) like Rajib Banerjee in the last assembly Polls. It was my mistake as I failed to identify his true colours. Now he is asking for votes from the people here in Domjur. First, he should clarify to the people in Domjur how many properties he owns in Kolkata and in Dubai. From where did he get the money?” she said.
Domjur MLA Rajib Banerjee was the minister holding the irrigation and waterways portfolio in the TMC government from 2011 to 2018, and then tribal affairs and backward classes from 2018 to 2019. Later, he became the state forest minister.
His discord with the party started around the end of last year when he alleged that the TMC was selectively sidelining some party leaders over issues like corruption and nepotism while those close to the ‘higher powers’ were allowed to do whatever they wanted to.
The legislator said he has nothing personal against anyone and his grievances are over certain issues and leaders related to nepotism and corruption in the TMC.
“Let the TMC leaders say whatever they want. People will decide on April 10 (the day of polling in Domjur)… I know they will not disappoint me,” he told the media on Thursday.
On January 22, Rajib resigned from Mamata’s cabinet and claimed that he wanted to quit the party in 2018 after he was removed, without any consultation, from the state irrigation department. He joined the BJP in New Delhi on January 31.
Around 45 of the over 280 candidates the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded in the polls for the 294-member legislative assembly are defectors, most of them from the TMC who were refused tickets.
Mamata had at another rally accused him of malpractice in appointing several ‘Bana Sahayaks’ (forest assistants) and said that an investigation has already been initiated against him.
Reacting to Mamata’s accusations against Rajib Banerjee, BJP state vice president, Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “It is interesting to hear that so many things happened in her ministry and, as per her today’s claims, she was clueless. I am just wondering about the timing of her allegations. She knows that the TMC’s days are numbered in Bengal and so she is making such allegations.”