THE TRINAMOOL Congress’s cup of woes continues to fill, with a party MP on Sunday questioning the decision to not include Madan Mitra as Sports Minister in the Mamata Banerjee Cabinet.
Speaking at a party programme at Bally in Howrah district, with Mitra present on the stage, MP Prasun Banerjee, the former Indian football captain, said he was surprised at the decision, as Mitra had been “the best sports minister” since the TMC came to power.
The portfolio is currently held by TMC heavyweight Aroop Biswas, while its Minister of State is Manoj Tiwary, the MLA from Howrah.
Gesturing towards Mitra, Banerjee said, “I don’t accept anyone else as Sports Minister. I am very proud to see this gentleman. I love him and he is my favourite person.”
Mitra had made history not just in the TMC but the whole country, Banerjee said, calling him “different” as compared to the others. “There have been only one or two people by Didi’s side from the start… many have left. Respect must be given to Madan Mitra, I want it, we all want it. I am surprised he is not in the Cabinet.”
Under the new administration in the Sports Ministry, he claimed, sportspersons like him struggled to get tickets for games. “He (Madan Mitra) delivered them on the doorstep. He would talk to me till half past midnight.”
Allotted both Sports and Transport portfolios as Minister of State in 2012 by Mamata Banerjee, Mitra had to step down after his arrest in the Sarada chit fund scam two years later. In the 2016 Assembly elections, he lost from Kamarhati.
While he could not make his way back to the ministry, Mitra has remained in the news for his statements, and his colourful social media posts, for which he was recently even pulled up by the TMC.
Expressing regret at Prasun Banerjee’s remarks, a senior TMC leader said: “This is a gross violation of the code of conduct of the party. However, I think he realises that he will not get a ticket in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. That is why he is saying such controversial things to remain relevant.”
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said what the MP said was his personal opinion. “How to organise the Cabinet, its dynamics, it is the privilege of the Chief Minister.”
BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said the incident was another proof that “the end of the TMC has started”. “The TMC’s top leadership should realise this.”