‘In 7 Phases’: BJP sneers at Mamata after exit of 2 Trinamool lawmakers
The joining of 56 councillors – 17 each of Halishahar and Kanchrapara municipalities, including chairman and vice-chairman, and 22 of Naihati municipality – effectively brings the civic bodies under BJP’s control.Updated: May 28, 2019 18:46 IST
The first mass defection of elected representatives from ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took place in Bengal on the fifth day after the Lok Sabha elections with two MLAs, 56 municipal councillors and three rural body representatives switching over to the saffron camp. A Left legislator, too, joined the BJP in the same event.
The three legislators who joined the BJP were Bijpur’s TMC MLA Subhranshu Roy, who is also the son of BJP leader Mukul Roy, Bishnupur’s Congress-turned-TMC MLA Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and Hemtabad’s Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Debendra Nath Roy.
While Subhranshu continued in the TMC despite his father joining the BJP in November 2017, Bhattacharya won in 2016 on a Congress ticket but joined the Trinamool last year.
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The joining of 56 councillors – 17 each of Halishahar and Kanchrapara municipalities, including chairman and vice-chairman, and 22 of Naihati municipality – effectively brings the civic bodies under BJP’s control.
The party has also gained the support of the majority of the corporators at Bhatpara municipality, where a no-confidence motion will be brought in soon, local BJP MP Arjun Singh said.
So far, not a single civic body was under the control of the BJP.
“When Modiji said during his election campaign in Bengal that 40 MLAs are in touch with us, TMC leader Derek (O’Brien) said that not a single corporator will desert TMC for BJP. Today, there are more than 50. There are three MLAs. Just like we had a seven-phase elections, there will be a seven-phase joining from TMC in the coming months,” said BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, the party’s Bengal in-charge.
Vijayvargiya also said that he could not rule out the Mamata Banerjee government losing majority in the state Assembly before the scheduled elections in 2021.
“We want to win Bengal through the 2021 Assembly elections. We have our best wishes for Mamata Banerjee till then. But if her MLAs start deserting the party in such numbers, we should not be blamed (for early fall of the government),” Vijayvargiya said.
All four civic bodies that went to the BJP are in North 24-Parganas district and within the Barackpore Lok Sabha, which TMC-turned-BJP leader Arjun Singh wrested from the TMC in a close contest.
In Bengal, food minister Jyoti Priya Mullick, who is also the party’s North 24-Parganas district unit chief, tried to put up a brave face. “We had once been reduced a party of one MP (in 2004), from where we rose to a 19-MP strong party (in 2009). We are Mamata Banerjee’s army and under her leadership all damages will be reversed.”
Refuting allegations that the party was indulging in horse-trading, BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was the convener of the party’s Bengal Lok Sabha election management committee, said, “If anybody indulged in horse trading, it is Mamata Banerjee. How else did the MLAs, who won on Congress tickets, become TMC’s? TMC used money and threats to force our rural body representatives to join them.”
“Now, everybody wants freedom from Mamata Banerjee’s autocratic regime,” Roy said, adding that more defections will take place early in June.
Elections in more than half of Bengal’s civic bodies are due in 2020.
The rural body representatives, who joined the BJP on Tuesday, were a Zilla Parishad member from Burdwan district, a panchayat Samiti chairperson and a gram panchayat pradhan from Hooghly district.
“When a ship is caught in a storm, the rats jump out first not knowing they would drown in the sea. Those who are leaving the party (TMC) are bowing down to pressure. Even Mukul Roy had done so,” said urban development minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim.
First Published: May 28, 2019 18:18 IST