ALL SIX Trinamool Congress MLAs of Tripura on Thursday attended a meeting organised by BJP’s Assam unit to extend support to NDA’s Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. One of the MLAs, Sudip Roy Barman, said their joining the BJP was only a matter of time now. Congress MLA from Tripura Ratan Lal Nath too attended the meeting to extend support to Kovind. The meeting was also attended by MLAs from BPF and AGP, BJP’s allies in Assam.
“We have come here hearing our voice of conscience. We have extended support to the NDA’s Presidential candidate in the best interest of the country. Today is the first step towards our formally joining BJP,” Barman told The Indian Express immediately after pledging support to Kovind. Earlier, Barman formally announced support to Kovind on behalf of the six MLAs in the presence of Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma. Assam BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Das, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav and Kovind were on the dais. “We offer you our unstinted support. It is a great honour and privilege for us to be present here,” Barman said.
Barman said there was no party whip with regard to the Presidential elections. “We would have kept quiet and silently voted for the NDA candidate. But the six of us sat down and discussed the issue, after which we decided to come out openly in support of Kovind. Our support is unconditional,” he said. On their joining the BJP, Barman said they have not yet received any formal invitation from the party. “We have not received any invitation yet. But it is only a matter of time now,” he said. Barman also said the six legislators had decided to fight the “corrupt” Left Front in the Tripura Assembly elections, likely to be held in February 2018. “The people of Tripura have already decided to oust the Left Front,” he added.
Tripura BJP president Biplab Deb, who accompanied the six Trinamool and one Congress MLA from his state to the meeting, said the decision of the legislators had further strengthened his party. “This is the first step towards their joining the BJP. In reality, they have already left the TMC. Their joining the BJP is only a formality, which we will organise soon,” Deb said.