Quitting politics to work for development of sports: Shukla

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Kolkata, Jan 7 (PTI) Two days after resigning as state minister and TMC president of Howrah Zilla (sadar), former Bengal Ranjhi team captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla on Thursday said that he is 'quitting' politics for the time being, as he wants to work for the development of sports.

Shukla also clarified that he is not joining any rival camp, amid speculations that the TMC MLA could defect to the BJP, following in the footsteps of several other leaders of the ruling party.

'I do not want to be in politics for the time being.

That's why I have resigned. There are reasons which I would not want to disclose. However, I will continue working for the society,' he told reporters during a press conference at his cricket academy.

Shukla, in a letter to party supremo Mamata Banerjee, had said on Tuesday that he was resigning as the minister of state for sports and youth affairs and TMC Howrah (sadar) president, but would complete his term as a legislator.

'I have pursued politics as honestly as I've played cricket. I will continue going out (to reach out to people) as I am still the MLA. I thank the people of Bengal for their support. Even today they call me a sportsperson and that's my true identity. I am happy that has not changed,' he said.

The former cricketer also said that he was thankful to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for giving him an opportunity to contest Assembly elections in 2016.

'A few days ago, she described me as 'bhalo chele' (good human being). To get a compliment from her is an achievement. I am a simple human being with no such agenda in life. As I am quitting politics for the time being, there is no question of joining any party,' he said.

Asked if his decision to quit politics was prompted by any major turn of events, the 39-year-old said, 'I do not have any complaint. I have a very cordial relationship with Mamata Banerjee and that will continue.... I would also like to mention that sportspersons have no opponent. I respect all leaders irrespective of their political colour.' On Bally TMC MLA Baishali Dalmiya alleging that 'some termites are destroying the TMC' in Howrah, Shukla said, 'She is like an elder sister... People have their personal views...

For the last 4.5 years the only thing I have pursued is politics. I am not running away, that's not in my nature.' He went on to praise officials leading the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), led by Abhishek Dalmiya, Baishali's brother, for 'taking sports to the next level'.

The former Bengal cricket captain had defeated his Congress rival Santosh Kumar Pathak and BJP's TV celebrity Roopa Ganguly in the Howrah north seat in 2016 Assembly elections. PTI SCH RMS RMS