Trinamool MP cautions his party as another TMC rebel returns from BJP
KOLKATA: Former Salt Lake mayor Sabyasachi Dutta on Thursday returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) nearly two years after he walked out to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prompting a prominent TMC leader to caution the party that letting leaders who jumped off the ship before the elections to return might not be such a good idea.
“Our workers feel aggrieved when people who insulted Mamata Banerjee in the recent assembly polls come back. Isn’t it natural that sincere party workers will feel disappointed to see people returning to become leaders again after opposing us till the other day,” TMC’s senior Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy said without naming Dutta or any other leader.
Dutta’s homecoming on Thursday was a low-key affair compared to the return of the five turncoat legislators who have headed back to the TMC since June this year. The modest event was held at parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee’s chamber in the state assembly shortly after governor Jagdeep Dhankhar administered the oath of office to Mamata Banerjee and TMC leaders, Jakir Hossain and Amirul Islam, as legislators. They won the polls held on September 30.
But such events do offer the TMC an opportunity to take swipes at the BJP, which had projected the desertions from the Trinamool camp in the runup to the elections to indicate that the BJP was within striking distance of power. But Mamata Banerjee stunned her rivals with her party’s performance in the March-April assembly elections. Her party won 213 seats, the BJP just 77.
“Let the BJP realise the effect of welcoming someone amid great hype and making him a state committee secretary,” said TMC’s Bengal general secretary Kunal Ghosh, a reference Sabyasachi Dutta who was appointed as BJP’s secretary.
Ghosh continued to rub it in. “Did BJP think that it could win polls in Salt Lake? People who have realized that they have no existence outside the TMC and cannot survive without Mamata Banerjee are coming back. This will make everyone understand that TMC is the only force to reckon with. It has no alternative,” said Ghosh.
Sabyasachi Dutta, who was earlier a lawmaker from Rajarhat-New Town constituency located east of Kolkata, could not be contacted for his comments.
At Thursday’s event, Dutta acknowledged that his exit from the TMC was not a smart move.
“I took an emotional decision and joined the BJP after some misunderstanding with my colleagues. I will earnestly serve the TMC in whatever role it gives me,” Dutta said after receiving the TMC flag from Chatterjee. Transport minister Firhad Hakim was also present.
“This is homecoming for Sabyasachi,” said Chatterjee.
Prepping for his return to the TMC, Dutta on Wednesday criticised his former boss, the Bengal BJP’s ex-president Dilip Ghosh for a comment on Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri killings.
Bengal BJP vice president Jay Prakash Majumdar slammed Dutta for crossing over, describing him as an opportunist. “He probably came to the BJP looking for lucrative opportunities and found that our party does not allow its members to make a fortune,” said Majumdar.
On September 4, BJP legislator from Kaliaganj in north Bengal Soumen Roy joined the TMC. There were others before him. Tanmay Ghosh, who won the Bishnupur seat in Bankura district, Biswajit Das, the lawmaker from Bagdah in North 24 Parganas district, and Mukul Roy, who was a BJP national vice-president and represents the Krishnanagar North seat in Nadia district, had earlier returned to the TMC.
These defections have brought down the BJP’s tally in the 294-member assembly from 77 to 71.
The BJP has sought their disqualification as legislators under anti-defection law as they have not resigned from the party.
Krishna Kalyani, the BJP legislator from Raiganj in the North Dinajpur district of north Bengal announced on October 1 that he was leaving the party, triggering speculation that he may join the TMC. Kalyani, an industrialist who started his political career with the BJP in January this year, has been speaking against the party leadership for quite some time.