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Cong MLA berth claim

Humayun Kabir, Mamata Banerjee

Calcutta, Nov. 12: Humayun Kabir, the Congress MLA from Murshidabad who had said he had got feelers to join Trinamul, claimed after a chat with Mamata Banerjee today that he had been “promised” a berth in the cabinet in the next shuffle.

The Rejinagar MLA, who does not get along with Murshidabad Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury, said Mamata had told him the cabinet rejig would happen on November 21.

He said: “The chief minister told me that she would shuffle her cabinet on November 21. Apparently this is why she asked me to let her know my decision on joining her party by November 16. She has promised me a berth in her cabinet in the next shuffle provided I leave the Congress to join her party.”

Kabir told The Telegraph this after coming out of a half-an-hour huddle with the chief minister in Writers’ Buildings. Kabir, a first-time legislator from the Congress stronghold, was today shepherded to Mamata’s office in the state secretariat by Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy around 2 pm.

Asked if he would join Trinamul, Kabir said he would decide on the matter after talking to his party supporters and leaders in his Assembly constituency.

He also said that “Adhirda” had telephoned him this morning before he left for Calcutta to “request me to remain with the Congress and forget the differences I had with him”.

“There is no denying that I have developed strained relations with Adhirda after he threw me out of his construction business in August this year. But yesterday I was given a warm reception by him when I attended his railway programme,” Kabir said.

Kabir would violate the anti-defection law if he continues to remain an MLA after joining Trinamul. “He will have to resign as Congress MLA and seek a fresh mandate on a Trinamul ticket. An MLA could avert the anti-defection law during his switch to other party provided he comes with one third of the total number of party MLAs,” former Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim said.

“Mamatadi…. suggested that I resign from the Congress and seek a fresh mandate as a Trinamul nominee from my old Rejinagar Assembly seat,” Kabir said.

A source in the chief minister’s secretariat confirmed tonight that “November 21 has been fixed for the next cabinet shuffle”.