BJP’s rebel north Bengal MLA quits party; more to follow, says TMC

Published on Oct 01, 2021 07:17 PM IST

In the March-April assembly polls, the BJP bagged 30 of the 54 seats in the eight north Bengal districts although the TMC won 213 seats across the state. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP bagged 18 of the state’s 42 seats. In north Bengal, it secured seven of the eight seats.

BJP legislator from Raiganj in the North Dinajpur district of north Bengal, Krishna Kalyani announced on Friday that he was quitting the party. (HT FILE PHOTO.)
BJP legislator from Raiganj in the North Dinajpur district of north Bengal, Krishna Kalyani announced on Friday that he was quitting the party. (HT FILE PHOTO.)

Krishna Kalyani, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Raiganj in the North Dinajpur district of north Bengal announced on Friday that he was leaving the party, triggering speculation that he may join the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Kalyani, an industrialist who stepped into politics by joining the BJP in January this year, had been speaking against the leadership for quite some time. On Friday, he held Debasree Chaudhuri, former Union minister of state and BJP Lok Sabha member from Raiganj, responsible for his decision.

“She is conspiring against me. I came into politics to serve people. And now, I am being stabbed in the back. This is unacceptable. It is not possible for me to work with her. I am leaving,” Kalyani said. This was the second time in a month that he spoke against Chaudhuri.

Kalyani made the announcement hours before the Bengal BJP felicitated its new state president Sukanta Majumdar, who represents the Balurghat Lok Sabha seat in the adjoining South Dinajpur district.

Though Kalyani kept mum on switching sides, TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy said, “He was unhappy in the BJP. There are more like him who are ready to quit. We don’t prefer indiscriminate induction but I think Kalyani will be welcomed if he wants to join TMC.”

“Picture abhi baaki hai (there is more to the film),” quipped Roy, using a one-liner from a popular Hindi movie to indirectly refer to the four saffron camp MLAs who have joined the TMC since June.

The last one to join on September 4 was Soumen Roy who was elected from the Kaliaganj seat in north Bengal. With this, the BJP’s tally in the 294-member Bengal assembly came down from 77 to 71.

For the record, BJP outperformed the TMC in north Bengal in all recent polls.

In the March-April assembly polls, the BJP bagged 30 of the 54 seats in the eight north Bengal districts although the TMC won 213 seats across the state. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP bagged 18 of the state’s 42 seats. In north Bengal, it secured seven of the eight seats.

Debasree Chaudhuri could not be contacted but Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya countered Kalyani.

“Unlike Chaudhuri, who is into politics for three decades, Kalyani is a newcomer. She has no reason to conspire against a novice. The BJP wants its members to stay together but if Kalyani wants to leave, he must do so after resigning from the assembly. People elected him as a BJP candidate,” said Bhattacharya.

BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said, “Kalyani has been speaking against Chaudhuri and top state leaders for a long time. He is free to leave. The number of MLAs is not important to us. It is allegiance to the party that matters.”

Kalyani had shocked the leadership after BJP national president JP Nadda appointed 41-year-old Majumdar as state president on September 18. Majumdar became the youngest state leader to hold the post that Dilip Ghosh, 57, had to vacate after a six-year stint.

“Is he (Majumdar) mature enough to run the party across the state? I have doubts. The BJP would have benefitted if an experienced person was given the responsibility. The appointment should have been discussed. Not a single MLA was aware of the decision till it was announced,” Kalyani said on September 19.

The BJP’s tally in the assembly came down from 77 to 75 immediately after the polls as two MLAs from north Bengal did not take oath to retain their Lok Sabha seats. The tally climbed down to 71 after four MLA joined the TMC. Three of them are from south Bengal districts.

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