TMC wins back Bongaon after BJP defectors return
Trinamool Congress (TMC) wrested majority in Bengal’s Bongaon municipality on Thursday after four councillors, who had switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in June, returned, making it the third civic body in the state where the ruling party regained majority after losing it to the BJP since the Lok Sabha election results.
Bongaon municipality in North 24 Parganas district has 22 wards. The TMC count stood at 14 on Thursday with 7 remaining with the BJP. One councillor was elected with a ticket from the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
As many as 11 TMC councillors of the civic body joined the BJP in Delhi in June.
“We got fed up in the BJP,” said Dilip Majumdar, a councillor from ward no 6, who returned to TMC along with three others in the presence of Kolkata mayor and urban development minister Firhad Hakim and food minister Jyoti Priya Mallick. However, Majumdar did not elaborate on what led to the quick build-up of disgust.
“Joining the BJP was a mistake on our part. We corrected it,” said Kartik Mondal, who represents ward no 7.
Firhad Hakim blamed the BJP for forcing them to switch in the first place. “Mamata Banerjee’s name is in their (those who returned) heart,” Hakim remarked.
However, Shankar Chatterjee, president of BJP’s Barasat organising district, blamed it on pressure from the ruling party.
“TMC put great pressure on the councillors who joined BJP. None of the 11 who joined our party willingly managed to return home since then. Their family members were implicated in false cases. These four gave in. Everybody in the state knows what methods TMC applies to capture local self-government,” said Shankar Chatterjee.
Thursday’s development happened at a time when Calcutta high court is hearing a case related to a no-trust motion brought against the civic body’s TMC chairman Shankar Adhya. The court had earlier stung Adhya for allegedly adopting to undemocratic practices during the no-trust motion.
In July, the TMC managed to restore majority in Kanchrapara and Halishahar municipalities that are located in North 24 Parganas district.
Incidentally, on June 4, Bhatpara municipality became the first municipality to be controlled by the BJP through a no-trust motion.
Bongaon is close to the Indo-Bangladesh border. In June, after BJP wrested Bongaon Lok Sabha seat from Bengal’s ruling party, the TMC’s Bongaon North legislator Biswajit Das, too, joined BJP.
In June, after the BJP’s stunning performance in Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, a majority of the public representatives from seven civic bodies – Bhatpara, Halishahar, Kanchrapara, Naihati, Garulia, and Bongaon (all in North 24-Parganas district) and Darjeeling as also of the Dakshin Dinajpur Zilla Parishad, joined the BJP.
BJP national executive committee member and the convenor of the party’s state election cell, Mukul Roy, and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya announced that BJP has gained a majority in this local self-government.
Incidentally, six legislators from the TMC and one from the Left joined the BJP after the LS polls. None of them has returned to their earlier parties yet.
In the Lok Sabha elections, BJP made deep inroads into Bengal for the first time, winning 18 seats, a ninefold increase from its 2014 tally of just two. TMC’s seats, on the other hand, dipped from 34 in 2014 to 22.