West Bengal BJP MP Kunar Hembram joins TMC ahead of polls | Kolkata - Hindustan Times

West Bengal BJP MP Kunar Hembram joins TMC ahead of polls

May 19, 2024 07:19 PM IST

Kunar Hembram accused the BJP of being an anti-tribal party and alleged that they don’t recognise the rights of tribal communities

Kunar Hembram, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha member from West Bengal’s Jhargram seat, which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST), joined the ruling Trinamool Congress on Sunday afternoon alleging that the BJP is an anti-tribal party.

Kunar Hembram. (File)
Kunar Hembram. (File)

“BJP is an anti-tribal party. They don’t want to recognise the rights of tribal communities,” Hembram, 61, who was denied a ticket by BJP this year, told the audience at a TMC rally held by the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.

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“Kunar Hembram realised over these years that BJP never works for the welfare of people,” said Banerjee.

Kunar did not officially resign from the BJP or the Lok Sabha. Polls at Jhargram and seven other seats will be held in the sixth phase on May 25.

While Banerjee was welcoming Hembram, Modi was addressing a rally at Bishnupur in Bankura district where BJP won both seats in 2019. Modi arrived in Bengal on Sunday on a two-day tour to address voters at five seats that go to polls in the sixth phase.

In the 2019 polls, when the turnout at Jhargram was around 1.4 million, Hembram won the seat in a close contest, defeating TMC’s Birbaha Soren by a margin of only 11,767 votes.

When BJP fielded Pranat Tudu, a doctor, for the ongoing polls, Hembram distanced himself from the saffron camp.

BJP made impressive inroads in the tribal belts of Bengal, which are mostly in the western parts bordering Jharkhand and parts of north Bengal.

Of Bengal’s 42 seats, BJP won 18 in 2019, including the two reserved for STs-- Jhargram and Alipurduar.

Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya refused to give any importance to Hembram switching sides

“Hembram won in 2019. That is a past thing. We live in the present. BJP will win the Jhargram seat once again and by a large margin. Hembram’s exit won’t make any difference,” he said.

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