Six TMC MLAs and four from Congress, Left join BJP at Amit Shah’s rally | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Six TMC MLAs and four from Congress, Left join BJP at Amit Shah’s rally

Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByHT Correspondent
Dec 20, 2020 05:28 AM IST

Among the 10 MLAs who switched sides, Trinamool’s Suvendu Adhikari is the only one who has submitted his resignation to the assembly though it has not been accepted on technical grounds.

Led by Suvendu Adhikari, six sitting legislators of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and four others from the Left and the Congress joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday afternoon in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah at a massive rally in Midnapore town in Bengal’s West Midnapore district.

Union home minister Amit Shah, Trinamool rebel Suvendu Adhikari, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, and BJP leaders Mukul Roy, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Locket Chatterjee with others at a public rally in Midnapore on Saturday.(ANI)
Union home minister Amit Shah, Trinamool rebel Suvendu Adhikari, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, and BJP leaders Mukul Roy, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Locket Chatterjee with others at a public rally in Midnapore on Saturday.(ANI)

Among the 10 MLAs who switched sides, Adhikari is the only one who has submitted his resignation to the assembly though it has not been accepted yet on technical grounds.

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Crucial assembly polls in the state are due in about five months. During his visit in October, Shah declared that the BJP will come to power by winning more than 200 of the state’s 294 assembly seats.

On Saturday, TMC’s Burdwan East Lok Sabha MP, Sunil Mandal; former minister Shyama Prasad Mukherjee; former Lok Sabha member from north Bengal’s Alipurduar, Dasrath Tirkey; and 15 civic body councillors of the TMC and other parties picked up the BJP flag along with at least 20 district-level leaders.

While the TMC leadership targeted Adhikari, who resigned from the party earlier this week, and called the others traitors and opportunists, Shah, in his brief speech, defended the rebels.

“Didi (Mamata Banerjee) you are talking of switching sides. Didn’t you leave the Congress and formed the TMC? Wasn’t it changing allegiance? Now you are accusing Suvendu bhai of changing sides. Thousands of people are waiting to join the BJP. Just wait and watch,” Shah said at the rally.

“Can you see the future of millions of youths who need jobs? You can only see your nephew and want to make him the chief minister,” said Shah without naming Abhishek Banerjee, the chief minister’s nephew and a Lok Sabha member.

Adhikari delivered a short but vitriolic speech. In an open letter to his followers Adhikari also said the TMC has failed to bring in any change in Bengal and the party has started to rot. The letter was released in the afternoon.

“You (Mamata Banerjee) will not be number one again. You will be number two. I do not recognize anyone as my mother except the one who gave birth to me, and my country,” Adhikari said at the rally.

Targeting Banerjee and the TMC for branding the BJP’s national leaders as “outsiders,” Adhikari said, “Amit Shah Ji, (BJP national president) JP Nadda Ji and the others are being called outsiders. India is one nation. I want Bengal and India to have the same government or else Bengal will not survive. There are no jobs, no progress. We have to ensure Narendra Modi’s government in Bengal.”

Targeting Abhishek Banerjee and calling him a tolabaaj (extortionist), Adhikari raised the slogan, “Tolabaaj bhaipo hatao (oust the extortionist nephew).”

Adhikari’s followers came from neighbouring districts in large numbers at the biggest playground in Midnapore town.

The college ground, where the rally was held, is the same venue where 90 people were injured in July 2018 when the makeshift canopy set up for a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi collapsed.

Apart from Adhikari, the other TMC MLAs who joined the BJP are: Shilbhadra Dutta from Barrackpore; Banashri Maiti from the Kanthi North in East Midnapore; Sukra Munda from Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district; Biswajit Kundu from Kalna in East Burdwan; and Saikat Panja from Manteswar in East Burdwan.

The lawmakers from other parties are: Sudip Mukherjee, the Congress MLA from Purulia district; Ashok Dinda, the Communist Party of India (CPI) MLA from Tamluk; Dipali Biswas, CPI(M) MLA from Gazole in Malda district; and Tapasi Mandal, the CPI(M) legislator from Haldia in East Midnapore district.

Significantly, veteran leader Bani Singha Roy from Howrah district, who is one of the founder vice-presidents of the TMC, also joined the BJP. Singha Roy spoke out against the present leadership last week for the first time.

Dasrath Tirkey, former Revolutionary Socialist Party MLA who joined the TMC in 2014 and won the Alipurduar Lok Sabha, seat joined the BJP on Saturday. Tirkey lost the seat to the BJP’s John Barla in 2019.

Among the others who joined the BJP are retired army colonel Diptangshu Chowdhury, who had quit the BJP in 2017 and joined the TMC. On Thursday, he stepped down from the posts of chairman of the South Bengal State Transport Corporation and advisor to the monitoring cell on programme implementation of government welfare services in the chief minister’s office.

Hitting back, TMC Lok Sabha member Kalyan Banerjee said Shah’s rally was a “flop show” as people were brought from several districts to fill up the college ground. “People started to leave even before Shah began his speech,” he said at a press conference at the TMC headquarters in Kolkata.

“You (Adhikari) are driven by greed. What didn’t you get in the TMC? You were a minister with three departments. You held other important portfolios. Your family is in control of two Lok Sabha constituencies and a civic body. You have no right to say that the party did not give you anything. Mamata Banerjee is a maverick leader. We will win the elections and you will be defeated too,” said Banerjee.

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