Defections to TMC continue as it seeks to expand base beyond West Bengal
Defections in Meghalaya are the latest in a series of switchovers to the TMC since May when chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led party returned to power for the third time in a row in West Bengal
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) with practically no presence in Meghalaya became the state’s largest opposition party in the 60-member House when 12 Congress legislators, including former chief minister Mukul Sangma, switched sides on Wednesday.
The defections are the latest in a series of switchovers to the TMC since May when chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led party returned to power for the third time in a row in West Bengal.
Leaders from the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and other parties, including in Bengal, have since joined the TMC. Independent legislators and turncoats, who joined the BJP in the run-up to the state assembly elections in Bengal this summer, have been among those who have defected to TMC. At least two of the leaders, who have joined the TMC, have been given Rajya Sabha berths.
Sangma, who served as the chief minister for eight years, joined TMC amid reports that he was upset with the Congress leadership after being sidelined. Luizinho Faleiro, another former Congress leader and ex-chief minister of Goa, joined the TMC with leaders close to him in September. He was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha this week. TMC has also appointed Faleiro as vice president.
Susmita Dev, a former Member of Parliament, quit the Congress in August to join the TMC. The TMC has given her charge of the party in Assam and Tripura besides nominating her to Rajya Sabha.
Pavan Varma, a former diplomat who along with political strategist Prashant Kishor was sacked from Janata Dal (United) over disagreements with the party chief Nitish Kumar, joined the TMC along with Kirti Azad and Ashok Tanwar this week. A former cricketer, Azad has been in both the BJP and the Congress. Azad joined the Congress in February 2019.
Tanwar, a former Congress Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Haryana, left the Congress in 2019.
Former Union minister Babul Supriyo joined the TMC in September after the two-time Member of Parliament from West Bengal’s Asansol was dropped from the Union Cabinet in July.
Mukul Roy, a former BJP vice president, and his son Subhranshu Roy returned to the TMC in June. He was instrumental in the rise of the TMC but left the party in 2017 after his name cropped up in a corruption case. He has since been nominated as the head of the Public Accounts Committee of the West Bengal assembly. At least BJP five legislators in Bengal have also joined the TMC in recent months while more have expressed their willingness to follow suit.
The TMC plans to set up units in at least 15 states within the next year.
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