Six Trinamool MLAs from Tripura meet NDA presidential candidate Kovind, may join BJP
The Trinamool legislators defied party chief Mamata Banerjee and pledged support for Kovind as the Trinamool’s arch rival Left Front, which rules Tripura, backed Congress candidate Meira Kumar.india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 23:31 IST
Six Trinamool Congress MLAs from Tripura met NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday, brighenting prospects of their joining the BJP ahead of assembly polls in the state next year.
The legislators led by Sudip Roy Barman had defied party chief Mamata Banerjee and pledged support for Kovind as the Trinamool’s arch rival Left Front, which rules Tripura, backed Congress candidate Meira Kumar. Banerjee had sworn support for Kumar.
The BJP is making a determined bid to uproot the Left Front which is ruling the state since 1993. The BJP is already in power in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and is part of the ruling alliance in Nagaland.
The Trinamool MLAs say they are “neither suspended nor expelled from the party”.
The MLAs arrived in Guwahati – five from Agartala and one from Delhi – much before Kovind flew in from Itanagar.
One of the MLAs, declining to be quoted, said they were likely to join the BJP. “This can happen any time after July 22,” he said.
The six MLAs were among 10 from the Congress elected to the 60-member Tripura assembly in 2013. Last year, they joined Trinamool after protesting the Congress’ electoral alliance with Left parties in the West Bengal assembly elections.
A seventh Congress MLA, Jitendra Sarkar, also quit that year and joined the ruling CPI-M. But he joined the BJP a month ago.
Former minister and president of Trinamool’s Tripura unit, Surajit Dutta, too joined the BJP this year along with Ratan Chakraborty and Arun Chandra Bhowmik, two leaders responsible for establishing the Trinamool in the landlocked state.
A few thousand workers of Trinamool, Congress and CPI-M have also joined the BJP making it the main opposition party in Tripura, where assembly elections are due next year.
The BJP has 61 MLAs in Assam. The value of their votes along with those of allies Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front besides Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha members work out to 15,872 compared to 12,904 that Congress candidate Meira Kumar is expected to garner.
Earlier, the BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav tweeted that Kovind is assured of votes from 49 party MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh. “We hope for support of nine People’s Party of Arunachal legislators too,” he said.
Kovind, BJP leaders in Tripura said, is also expected to get the vote of at least one of three Congress MLAs in the state.