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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

‘Lost his mind’: Trinamool on ex-MLA’s claim 100 lawmakers will jump ship and join BJP

The BJP’s Arjun Singh claimed on Tuesday that about 100 Trinamool Congress legislators are ready to switch over to his party in West Bengal, inviting stinging remarks from the leaders of his former organisation.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2019 17:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Former TMC leader Arjun Singh (C) with BJP senior leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya (R) and Mukul Roy (L) after joining Bharatiya Janata Party at BJP HQ in New Delhi, India on Thursday, March 14, 2019.
Former TMC leader Arjun Singh (C) with BJP senior leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya (R) and Mukul Roy (L) after joining Bharatiya Janata Party at BJP HQ in New Delhi, India on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Sonu Mehta/HTFILE PHOTO)
         

The BJP’s Arjun Singh claimed on Tuesday that about 100 Trinamool Congress legislators are ready to switch over to his party in West Bengal, inviting stinging remarks from the leaders of his former organisation.

Singh, the former four-time Trinamool MLA from Bhatpara, switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier this month and was rewarded with a ticket from the Barrackpore parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha election 2019. He is up against sitting member of Parliament and senior Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi.

“About 100 legislators from the ruling party are set to join the BJP. Some will join before the (Lok Sabha) elections, the rest after,” Singh said on Tuesday.

Asked whether the list includes ministers, too, Singh remarked, “I won’t comment. If I say yes, they may lose their jobs.”

Four of the five former Trinamool leaders, who switched over to the BJP this year, have already been given tickets to fight the Lok Sabha election 2019 in West Bengal.

They are former Bolpur MP Anupam Hazra, who is the contestant from Jadavpur constituency, and former Bishnupur MP Saumitra Khan, who has been nominated by his new party from the same seat. The other two are Singh and Niseeth Pramanik, who is the BJP candidate from the constituency of Cooch Behar.

Khan, Hazra and Pramanik also quit the ruling party earlier this year.

Singh’s comment invited scorn and ridicule from state food and supplies minister and senior Trinamool leader Jyoti Priya Mallick.

Also read | TMC leader and four-time MLA Arjun Singh joins BJP

“He (Singh) appears to have lost his mind. Has a single TMC MLA followed Singh to the BJP yet?” Mallick, who is also the Trinamool president of North 24 Parganas district where Singh’s constituency is located, asked.

Two of the other Trinamool legislators, who have been wooed by the BJP leaders, are Sabyasachi Dutta and Sovan Chatterjee.

Dutta is the MLA from Rajarhat New Town near Kolkata and Sovan Chatterjee is a legislator from Behala East assembly seat that he won in 2011 and 2016. Chatterjee was also an important minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet with three portfolios till last year. He was also the mayor of Kolkata till he quit that position in November 2018.

Both Dutta and Chatterjee admitted that they were wooed by the BJP.

Dutta, in fact, hosted the BJP’s election management committee chief in West Bengal Mukul Roy at his residence on March 10, much to the displeasure of Trinamool leaders. He was censured the next day and also issued a statement that he was with the ruling party.

However, in the next few days, Dutta remarked that if someone visits his house, he would offer snacks as he had done to Roy. Dutta also said “Bharat Mata ki Jai” at a programme on Holi that kept the speculation of his joining the BJP alive.

The BJP has so far announced the names of 30 candidates in West Bengal, which sends 42 lawmakers to the Lok Sabha. The ruling Trinamool has named its candidates for all the seats.

Polling will be held in Barrackpore during the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election 2019 on May 6. The votes will be counted on May 23.

First Published: Mar 26, 2019 17:09 IST

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