The incident of three MLAs of the Left and two of the Congress voting for the Trinamool Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections in West Bengal has sent shockwaves in the state.
For the Trinamool Congress, whose official colour is green, it is a political victory over its opponents before the Lok Sabha polls in April-May.
For the Left Front, known for its proverbial discipline, it is a dangerous signal of its rank and file cracking up and all the Congress could do is just watch helplessly.
West Bengal had been immune to horse-trading for decades. But the image was sullied on Friday, when Left leaders said some “deal” preceded the voting. On the same day, Trinamool Congress chief and CM Mamata Banerjee said in the assembly the party would give them due honour and responsibility in the party.
Just a day later, the Left MLAs – Ananta Deb Adhikari, Dasarath Tirkey (both from Revolutionary Socialist Party) and Sunil Mondal (Forward Bloc) – joined West Bengal’s ruling party.
A day before the polls, Left leaders knew something was wrong but could not stop the switch. They appeared helpless, and filed a missing diary at Park Street police station to attract public attention.
“Human beings don’t put themselves up for sale. Cattle are,” said Surya Kanta Mishra, former CPI(M) minister and leader of the opposition in the West Bengal assembly.
Kshiti Goswami, senior leader of the RSP, speaking at the Brigade Parade Ground on Sunday, said: “Where has the money from Saradha scam (financial scam) gone? It was used to buy the MLAs.”
Mukul Roy, all India general secretary of the Trinamool Congress, denied horse-trading.
“They (three Left MLAs) were in touch with us for long and disillusioned with their parties.”
The Trinamool Congress, which has successfully won in the panchayat and municipal polls, is looking forward to increasing its tally from 19 to 26-30 in the Lok Sabha polls.
Since coming to power in 2011, the party was seen bleeding the Congress, then its ally, a trend that assumed enormous proportions after Banerjee left the UPA in September 2012.
The two Congress MLAs who cross-voted will join the Trinamool Congress in a day or two.
This apart, Congress leaders in the districts are leaving the party and joining the ruling party. But party sources were not prepared to see the coup in the assembly, where they were sure of the victory of independent candidate AS Mahilabadi, whom the Congress supported.
“We never expected it. It is unfortunate that the Trinamool Congress has resorted to threats and money and bring in horse trading, which was so far alien to our politics,” said Pradip Bhattacharya, president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee.