THE STATE Congress on Tuesday said it has formally written to Manas Bhunia, seeking to know whether he has joined the ruling Trinamool Congress. This comes a day after Bhunia, Sabang MLA and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the state Assembly, defected to Trinamool, which he claimed was the “real Congress”.
“If he has any self-respect and conscience, he will write to the Assembly Speaker and to me as the leader of Opposition on his Trinamool letterhead, saying that he has changed his political affiliation. He should inform the Speaker that his seat should be changed to the Trinamool bench. Till then, I will issue party whips to him as well just like I do with other MLAs of the party,” Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan told mediapersons.
Mannan added that if Bhunia does not reply within a week, legal action would be taken against him. Asked if Bhunia would retain his chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the state Assembly, Mannan said: “It would depend on the Speaker… An MLA could retain the post even after leaving the party.”
Stating that it was immoral to defect after winning election on the symbol of another party, Mannan said they would move the Supreme Court seeking amendment to the anti-defection law. He added that the Election Commission too should take initiative to amend the law so that elected representatives cannot take advantage of “loopholes”.
Taking a dig at Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee, Mannan claimed he was poor in maths. “Even after three Congress MLAs and one Left MLA officially defected to Trinamool, he says there are 211 TMC MLAs. He should write to the Speaker that officially, Trinamool now has 215 and not 211 MLAs. Why doesn’t he have the courage to do so?” he asked.
Congress also plans to hold protest rallies at the Assembly constituencies of the “renegade Congress MLAs” and make people aware of who the “turncoats” are. Bhunia, while addressing mediapersons later, said he has been forced to join Trinamool because of the “atrocities of state and central Congress leaders”.
“The state Congress has turned into a wing of the Communist party here. A plot to oust me out was drafted at Alimuddin Street (CPM headquarters), executed by (state Congress chief) Adhir Chowdhury and Abdul Mannan. It was protected by (AICC general secretary) C P Joshi who had presented a distorted picture to the AICC president,” Bhunia claimed. He added that he would continue as the PAC chairman.
On Monday, Bhunia had said: “Today, I have joined the real Congress, that is Trinamool Congress. The Congress with which I was associated for 46 years is completely ruined because of C P Joshi, Adhir Chowdhury and Abdul Mannan… From today, I am a loyal soldier of Trinamool Congress and will abide by the orders and decisions of Mamata Banerjee.”