Former Tripura chief minister Samir Ranjan Barman, along with six rebel Congress MLAs — including his son Sudip — will join Trinamool Congress next month. With this, Trinamool is set to emerge as the prime Opposition for the Manik Sarkar-led Left Front government in Tripura.
Sudip, who had met West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool president Mamata Banerjee immediately after her swearing in last month, with a delegation of the rebel leaders, said: “We will join Trinamool after the end of Ramzan next month.”
Sources said the month-long period — before the six rebel MLAs formally join Trinamool — could be used by them to negotiate with the Congress high command in Delhi. In the past, Sudip had written to party president Sonia Gandhi expressing the state Congress’ distress regarding its alliance with the Left and sought her intervention.
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At present, the Sarkar government is comfortably placed with 50 seats in the 60-member Assembly. The Congress, with 10 seats, is the prime Opposition party.
Sudip, reiterating that Mamata is the “only antidote” to the Left rule, said: “In Tripura, Congress has lost all credibility after it entered into an alliance with CPM in West Bengal. How can you fight against CPM when you have an alliance with them in another state?”
The alliance between Left and Congress in Bengal had not pleased both groups in Tripura. While Sarkar is said to have described the move as a “historic blunder” and refused to campaign in Bengal, Sudip — Tripura Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader — had resigned from his post in protest. The Congress high command had suspended Sudip, who led the five disgruntled legislators.
Last week, CPM state secretary Bijon Dhar had said the “party had made mistakes earlier as well but the alliance with the Congress was its biggest blunder”.
Though Tripura Assembly elections are scheduled only in 2018, Trinamool’s dogged opposition of the Left is likely to worry Sarkar’s hitherto unchallenged Left government.
For Mamata this is the perfect opportunity to expand her party’s influence in the North-East. Bengalis form the largest ethno-linguistic group in Tripura with about 67 per cent of the population.
Mamata’s lieutenant Mukul Roy was given the task of exploring the possibility of inducting the rebel Congress leaders into Trinamool. After a closed-door meeting with the six leaders, Roy had reportedly come out beaming on Friday.
“Sudip Roy Barman had called up Mamata Banerjee while electoral campaigning was still on. He had expressed his distress with the alliance and said they would help the Trinamool. The task of defeating the Left in Tripura is something the two have in common and it brought them together,” said a source.
Trinamool’s is likely to follow its Bengal formula to win over Tripura. As a senior leader put it: “It will be relentless opposition, dharnas, protests and giving a voice to people’s discontent.”