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CPI(M)'s Bengal Committee Recommends Expulsion of Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee

Ritabrata Banerjee has been under suspension since June over allegations of leading a lavish lifestyle and hobnobbing with BJP leaders. Party insiders said that a majority of the state committee members supported his expulsion at the meeting on Wednesday.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:September 13, 2017, 5:41 PM IST
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CPI(M)'s Bengal Committee Recommends Expulsion of Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee
File image of CPI(M) flag. (Image: Getty Images)
Kolkata: The Bengal Secretariat of CPI(M) recommended the expulsion of Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee from the party on Wednesday, just a day after he gave an explosive interview against the party’s central leadership.

Banerjee has been under suspension since June over allegations of leading a lavish lifestyle and hobnobbing with BJP leaders. Party insiders said that a majority of the state committee members supported his expulsion at the meeting on Wednesday.

“Even some of the senior party leaders who had backed Ritabrata on many occasions in the past decided not to save him this time as he had stepped the line by speaking against the central leadership,” a CPI(M) member said.

As per norms, the state committee’s decision on Ritabrata’s expulsion will now be sent to central committee for a final decision. “This is just a formality because central committee members have already decided to expel him from the party. His expulsion will be official very soon,” a senior party leader said.

Speaking to News18, Left Front legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty, without confirming that he was expelled, said that the decision was not taken in haste. “Our decision will be communicated to the media soon,” he said.

In a television interview on Tuesday, Banerjee had said that the central CPI (M) leadership was anti-Bengali and alleged that politburo members Prakash and Brinda Karat had blocked general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s return to the Rajya Sabha.

He had also slammed the central leadership by alleging that politburo member Mohammad Salim managed to get some space in party’s highest body because the politburo has a quota for Muslims. He had accused Salim and his son, who is also a party member, of spearheading a social media campaign to malign him.

“I am a victim of jealousy by some of my party leaders who were always busy to heckle me or malign me. They somehow convinced the party to take a decision against me,” the CPI(M) youth leader had told a Bengali TV channel.

On June 2, Ritabrata was suspended from the party for “leading a lavish lifestyle” and for using expensive watches and electronic gadgets as this goes against the party’s ideology. The party had then formed a three-member commission to look into his suspension in August. The commission was headed by Mohammed Salim.

Banerjee is the former General Secretary of the Students’ Federation of India. He is said to be very close to former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and he is the one who had recommended his name for the Rajya Sabha seat.

Opponents have often taken a potshot at Ritabrata on social media for his use of expensive gadgets and luxury items. Sources said the party was also annoyed with him for his meetings with union ministers of BJP and representatives of big industrial houses in New Delhi.

The party had finally decided to suspend him when he abandoned CPI (M) Politburo member and Lok Sabha MP Md Salim to face police wrath at Left’s ‘Nabanna Chalo Abhiyan’ on May 22. On that day, Banerjee was actively participating in party work but is alleged to have disappeared when police resorted to lathicharge the protesters.
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