With Shah’s WB trip cancelled, BJP flying TMC rebels to Delhi in chartered plane
- Shah was scheduled to arrive in Kolkata around 11 pm on Friday but he had to cancel the trip in view of the security threat in the national capital.
With Union home minister Amit Shah cancelling his two-day Bengal trip on Friday night after the IED blast outside the Israeli embassy in Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday afternoon made hectic arrangements to fly a group of rebel Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders to Delhi in a chartered plane.
Those who were scheduled to take the 4.10 pm flight included former minister Rajib Banerjee, who resigned from the Domjur assembly seat in Howrah on Friday; Vaishali Dalmiya, the sitting MLA from Bally in Howrah and who was expelled by the TMC recently; Prabir Ghosal, the MLA from Uttarpara in Hooghly district; Rathin Chakraborty, former mayor of Howrah town; Partha Sarathi Chatterjee, former MLA from Ranaghat in Nadia district and actor Rudranil Ghosh, who recently started speaking against the TMC.
The actor used to be a CPI(M) supporter during the Left era and switched over to the TMC after Mamata Banerjee came to power. Dalmiya, a businesswoman and daughter of former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, joined politics in 2016. So did Ghosal, a senior journalist.
“I was contacted by people from Shah’s office after I resigned from the assembly on Friday. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is the observer for Bengal, also contacted me. I was supposed to meet Shah at his hotel on Friday night but his trip was cancelled. I will contest from Domjur again. The voters have seen how I worked for them. Positions are not important for me. I want to work for people. I needed the right political platform to achieve that. I never liked mudslinging in politics,” Rajib Banerjee told reporters before boarding the flight.
Shah was scheduled to arrive in Kolkata around 11 pm on Friday but he had to cancel the trip in view of the security threat in the national capital. He was supposed to welcome the dissident TMC leaders into the BJP at a rally in Howrah district on Sunday afternoon.
“We have been told that Shah will be present when we join the BJP at the party’s headquarters this evening,” Ghosal told HT. “It is a great honour for us that Shah has sent a special plane. We will return tomorrow and attend the rally in Howrah. There was no alternative but to leave the TMC,” he added.
“This is going to be a new start,” said Dalmiya.
Senior TMC leader and panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said, “It is not a matter of honour if someone leaves the TMC for no definite ideology. Our party is huge. We do not stop anyone from leaving.”
The rally in Howrah will be held as planned. Bengal BJP leaders said Union defence minister Rajnath Singh is likely to address it. Singh was scheduled to arrive in Kolkata on Saturday night.
On Saturday, Shah was also scheduled to address a rally at Thakurnagar (in North 24 Parganas) which is the headquarters of the Dalit Matua community that has demanded implementation of the amended citizenship law in Bengal. Matua leader Shantanu Thakur won the local Bongaon Lok Sabha seat in 2019 for the BJP, defeating his aunt and then sitting TMC MP Mamata Bala Thakur.
BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya visited Thakurnagar on Saturday afternoon and Shah called up Shantanu Thakur.
“The Union home minister said the rally will be held any day. We will wait,” said Thakur.