TMC loses 2 MLAs, 50 councillors to BJP in 'first of seven phases'

BJP leaders Kailash Vijaivargiya and Mukul Roy join hands with two Trinamool Congress and one CPM legislator, who joined Bharatiya Janata Party along with 60 councillors from three civic bodies in West Bengal, in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
Days after the Trinamool Congress lost several of its previously held Lok Sabha seats to the Bharatiya Janata Party, two of its MLAs and more than 50 councillors defected to the national party on Monday. One MLA of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), too, jumped ship. 

The BJP said mass exodus of Trinamool leaders to the BJP will take place in “seven phases” — this being the first.

While the TMC lost Subhrangshu Roy (Bijpur MLA) and Tusharkanti Bhattacharya (Bishnupur MLA), the CPI-M witnessed the departure of Debendra Nath Roy, a legislator from Hemtabad. 

Roy’s father Mukul Roy, who was once considered as a close confidante of TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had joined the BJP in 2017. A former railways minister, the senior Roy, in the past, had been questioned by the CBI in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. His son was suspended from the TMC on Monday for anti-party activities. 

The chairman and the vice chairman of the boards of the Naihati, the Halishahar and the Kanchrapara municipalities, along with over 50 councillors, too, joined the BJP. A handful of TMC leaders at the Panchayat level also changed their allegiance.

“During the election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that 40 MLAs from West Bengal are in contact with us and Derek O’Brien (TMC leader in the Rajya Sabha) had tweeted that it won’t happen. Today, more than 50 councillors and three MLAs have joined the BJP,” said the BJP’s West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya. They joined the BJP at its headquarters in Delhi. 

“Just like the seven-phase Lok Sabha election, we will have joining of leaders from the TMC to the BJP in seven phases. Today was just the first phase,” he said. “This is the end of Mamata’s tyranny. Our best wishes with her that she stays till 2021, but if her people keep leaving her, then I can’t help her.”

Mukul Roy stated that as part of a political strategy, he had been in touch with potential defectors in the TMC, who stayed with the party during the Lok Sabha polls but voted for the BJP.

The 2019 Lok Sabha election results had come as a blow to Banerjee and the TMC, as the party lost its hold on northern West Bengal and tribal areas of the western part of the state. Its seat count reduced from 34 in 2014 to 22. On the other hand, the BJP increased its tally from only two to 18.

In the 2016 Assembly polls in Bengal, the Trinamool had won 211 seats of 294. In the by-polls on eight seats, held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha election, the BJP won four seats, while three went to the TMC; the Congress emerged victorious on one.

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