Six TMC MLAs rebel, BJP set to be main opposition in Tripura ahead of 2018 polls
TMC had axed the six MLAs, who had in June 2016 crossed over from the Congress, for anti-party activities after they decided to vote for Ram Nath Kovind, then the NDA’s nominee for President.india Updated: Aug 07, 2017 17:40 IST
Agartala The 60-member Tripura assembly, dominated by communists for decades, is set to get a tinge of saffron with six MLAs of Trinamool Congress (TMC) scheduled to join the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.
TMC had axed the six MLAs, who had in June 2016 crossed over from the Congress, for anti-party activities after they decided to vote for Ram Nath Kovind, then the NDA’s nominee for President.
The formal joining will be a bonus for BJP ahead of the assembly polls scheduled in the first half of 2018. The BJP has never won an assembly in the Marxist-ruled state with the CPI-M and other Left Front constituents accounting for 51 members in the current assembly.
The TMC legislators led by Sudip Roy Barman met BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi on August 5. Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP’s Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar and state president Biplab Kumar Deb were present in the meeting.
“Meeting of Amit Shah with the MLAs was just a courtesy. They would join BJP today during a rally near (Tripura capital Agartala’s) Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhawan,” Deb told HT on phone.
Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan, party general secretary Ram Madhab and party’s Northeast general secretary Ajay Jamwal would be present in the joining programme besides Sarma, Deodhar and Deb.
Many TMC members from different parts of the state are also expected to join BJP along with the six TMC legislators, Deb said.
Days after TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee de-recognised the six, they cast their votes in favour of Kovind on July 17. Congress MLA Ratan Lal Nath voted for Kovind too.
The BJP had earlier had set a deadline for nine opposition MLAs (six from Trinamool Congress and three from Congress) to join the party by May 31 without any precondition. Otherwise, they would field their own candidates in the nine seats they represent, for the 2018 polls.
Barman and the other five MLAs had joined TMC on June 7 last year protesting against the political understanding between CPM and Congress during West Bengal assembly polls.
Within six months, the TMC new committee was formed under the leadership of Asish Saha. Another dissident leader – DC Hrangkhawl was made Trinamool Congress Legislature Party chief.