An hour after West Bengal forest minister Rajib Banerjee resigned from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet, his colleague, Baishali Dalmiya, an MLA from Howrah district, was expelled from Trinamool Congress for “anti-party” activities. Baishali is one of the rare leaders who have been expelled from the party before tendering her resignation.
Daughter of former ICC and BCCI president, late Jagmohan Dalmiya, Baishali joined TMC in 2016 after she was approached by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Five years later, Baishali says she was “disillusioned” with Mamata and her party.
She is likely to join the BJP in presence of Union home minister Amit Shah during his upcoming visit to Kolkata on 30 January.
Speaking to The Print, Baishali said she joined the Trinamool “not to steal from people”, but “to work”, adding that there are “termites” in the party.
‘Termites killing TMC’
Baishali was introduced and inducted in the Trinamool Congress by Mamata during a political programme in Kolkata before the 2016 assembly election, and was fielded from Howrah district’s Bally assembly constituency.
“I had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I wanted to work for people and that is why I accepted Mamata Banerjee’s proposal of joining politics. The constituency was tough to crack and CPM had a strong support base there. I was new to politics, but was fielded against Left Front government’s former minister Anjan Bera, a seasoned politician. I followed the party’s instructions and won, defeating him by close to 15,000 votes,” she said.
“Since then, in the past five years, I have seen some termites killing the party. I have been expelled for anti-party activities, but I don’t know what anti-party activity I indulged into. I only said that there are a group of people who are defaming and demeaning the party. Was it anti-party?”, she asked.
Baishali also claimed that she did not receive any written communication or notice from the party, though it’s been 24 hours since she came to know about her expulsion through media reports.
Arup Roy, minister and Trinamool in-charge of Howrah district, however, said the party had taken the right decision by expelling her. “These people do not mean anything to the party. They are new in politics and did not do anything mentionable for the party. They did not make any sacrifice like we did. They can say many things, but these will not damage the party.”
‘Have not been approached by BJP’
On being asked if she will be joining the BJP, Baishali said, “I was loyal to Trinamool Congress. But I was suffocating there. Now I am free and can be approached by any party. I will stay in politics and will take an appropriate decision to be with people. I have not been called by any BJP leader as of now.”
However, sources close to her said that she is likely to join the saffron party soon. Talking about Rajib Banerjee’s decision to quit the party, she said, “Rajib da is one of very few gentlemen in the party. He is an educated and disciplined person. But I saw how he was harassed. I did not join Trinamool to steal. I have seen how all the government funds, allocated for Amphan relief, were siphoned off. Nothing reached people. I sent a list of 600 people, whose houses were damaged. None of them got any assistance from the government. People will not forget this.”
Association with Sourav Ganguly
Baishali also dismissed allegations that she consults BCCI president Sourav Ganguly over political matters.
“There are some people who live their lives as creepers. They think that everyone is like them. I am not a creeper. I take my own decisions. We are family friends for generations, but both of us are independent entities,” she said.
Baishali’s brother Abhishek, a businessman and Dalmiya’s younger son, was elected unopposed as the youngest president of Cricket Association Bengal (CAB) in February 2020.
On speculations about Ganguly joining the BJP, she said, “As I said, we have our different identities. I do not know what would be his decision on joining politics. But I know that a section in Trinamool is apprehensive of Sourav joining BJP. But, I can say that if he does, Trinamool will be finished. Bengal’s love for Sourav is bigger and greater than any politics.”