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CPI(M) leadership is anti-Bengali, Politburo has Muslim quota: MP Ritabrata Banerjee

Banerjee accused Prakash and Brinda Karat of blocking Sitaram Yechury’s return to the upper house and said Md Salim was in the Politburo only because the body had a quota for Muslims.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 12:36 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
CPI(M),Politburo,Ritabrata Banerjee
Ritabrata Banerjee (centre) criticised the CPI(M) leadership in a TV interview. (Subhendu Ghosh / HT file photo)

The CPI(M) central leadership is “anti-Bengali” and Politburo members Prakash Karat and his wife Brinda took the lead in blocking general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s return to the Rajya Sabha, the party’s young Upper House member Ritabrata Banerjee has alleged.

Banerjee — in the eye of a storm since February after his Mont Blanc pen and Apple watch raised a storm — also alleged the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Lok Sabha legislator Md Salim and his son, also a party member, were carrying out a malicious campaign against him ever since he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

“I was suspended before an inquiry and the three-member inquiry commission headed by Md Salim was nothing short of a kangaroo court,” Banerjee told a Bengali television channel on Monday night.

He alleged Salim was in the Politburo only because the party’s highest executive body had a quota for Muslims. “How can a Communist party have a quota for Muslims or, even women for that matter?” he asked.

“Majority in the CPI(M) national leadership are anti-Bengali. In 1996, they did not allow Jyoti Basu to become the Prime Minister of the first United Front government. He later described it as a historic blunder,” alleged Banerjee.

During the interview, Banerjee said though he kept silent after he was suspended for three months on charges of leading a non-communist lifestyle, Salim and his son carried out a campaign on social media against him.

“I suspected that Salim and other members of the inquiry commission might make some moves against me so I secretly recorded the entire proceedings of the closed-door inquiry,” said Banerjee.

“They illegally accessed my bank statement. On August 11, I requested Union finance Arun Jaitley to probe into the leak of information from a bank in Delhi. I will also approach the cyber wing of Kolkata Police,” he added.

In August, the Bengal state committee upheld the report of the inquiry commission that recommended Banerjee’s expulsion from the state committee. The decision came after a stormy session of the committee in Kolkata.

There were mainly complaints against Banerjee of leading a lavish lifestyle that included the use of expensive personal gadgets and ‘romantic liaisons’ not befitting a Marxist.

“The final decision will be taken by the central committee. But he must get some punishment for his own rectification,” CPI(M) Bengal state secretary Suryakanta Mishra said last month.

Banerjee’s interview raised a storm not only among leaders in the CPI(M)’s Bengal unit but other state units as well. Several senior leaders told the Hindustan Times what Banerjee had done was unprecedented and accounts for the highest form of anti-party activity the punishment for which is summary expulsion.

Though Banerjee told HT he had no plans to join any political party right away, there were strong rumours that he might join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sources close to Banerjee said he would soon give an interview to a popular English news channel.

After Banerjee’s interview was aired on Monday night, party leaders said the Rajya Sabha MP would now be summarily expelled from the CPI(M) any day.

“I have just now landed at the Bangalore airport. I did not watch the interview. Let me get the details first,” Yechury told HT at 9.50pm.

Mishra did not take calls from HT and Md Salim could not be contacted.

Banerjee has been a member of the Rajya Sabha since February 2014. He became the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) district president in 2003 and in 2005, he was made the vice-president of the West Bengal wing of the party’s student wing.

He joined full-time politics before 2005 and soon came close to the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The former chief minister, however, stayed aloof ever since the charges were levelled at Banerjee.

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 11:49 IST