Major setback for Mamata as 2 TMC MLAs, 60 councillors join BJP

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on May 28, 2019

Crossover artists With the defection of 60-odd councillors, the BJP will now control at least three urban local bodies (municipalities) in the State   -  Sandeep Saxena

CPI(M) legislator Devendra Roy, too, switches loyalty

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal witnessed its first exodus as two dissenting MLAs and over 60 councillors joined the BJP on Tuesday.

This is the first open-attempt by a reinvigorated BJP to break through the TMC ranks here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during one of his election rallies in the State, had said that “40 (TMC) MLAs were in touch with the BJP” and that they would switch over, post polls.

“The BJP has not taken its foot off the pedal here in Bengal and is using the same game-plan that Banerjee had used to break the CPI(M) and the Congress,” a political analyst said on conditions of anonymity.

Those who switched allegiance include suspended TMC MLA and BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhranshu Roy. Others include Tushar Kanti Bhattacharjee and CPI(M)’s Devendra Roy.

Subhranshu was amongst the first dissidents of the TMC who spoke out about the party’s poor show in the polls.

The switch-over of these 60-odd councillors means the BJP will have control of at least three urban local bodies (municipalities) in the State.

“Rats are the first one to flee a sinking ship. But they do not realise that they are jumping into a sea. Leaders are being forced to switch sides,” West Bengal Urban Development Minister, Firhad Hakim, said.

The dissidents joined the BJP at the party’s headquarters in Delhi in the presence of Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP’s national general secretary and party leader Mukul Roy.

According to Vijayvargiya, more leaders are in touch and are expected to switch over soon. A selection process has also been put in place.

“The joining of these leaders will happen across seven phases,” he said, adding that “several leaders are feeling suffocated in the TMC”.

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, some of the TMC dissidents switched sides to join the BJP. At least three of these dissidents won subsequently.

A stellar show by the BJP in West Bengal in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls saw the party snatch at least 12 seats from the ruling TMC. The BJP won 18 seats, while the ruling TMC won 22. The Congress managed two seats.

‘Hunt for traitors’

Signs of dissidence among TMC leaders have been on the rise since May 23.

On Saturday, Banerjee begun a re-organisation exercise within the party and alleged that “there was internal sabotage”. According to Banerjee, her party has launched a hunt for the “traitor(s)” within as a part of its performance review.

Sources said the TMC has identified 192 Assembly segments in the 294-member Assembly as “troubled zones”.

On a micro level, the TMC found itself trailing in 129 Assembly segments. There are 60 more seats where the BJP is breathing down its neck. Results here can go either way.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee said she will attend Modi’s the swearing-in ceremony. “I have spoken to the other Chief Ministers. We will try and make it to the swearing-in. It is our Constitutional duty,” she said

Published on May 28, 2019

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