The Trinamool Congress on Monday asked its Tripura unit to sever all ties with five Congress MLAs, who had defected to the party, a day after the leaders expressed support for NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 Presidential elections. Trinamool, on the other hand, is set to support Opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the elections. The party cannot officially expel the five, as they are yet to resign as MLAs from the Tripura Assembly even after quitting the Congress and joining TMC in 2016.
Sudip Roy Barman, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, Asish Saha, Biswabandhu Sen and Pranjit Singha Roy had won the Tripura elections on Congress tickets but defected to Trinamool in 2016 in protest against Congress’ electoral alliance with Left in the West Bengal polls.
“Party chief Mamata Banerjee had said that we will support the Opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the Presidential election. That is the decision of the party. However, the five Congress MLAs have taken their own decision. We are completely against their decision. Our party will not maintain any relation with these five leaders,” Trinamool minister and secretary general Partha Chatterjee told mediapersons.
Accusing the five of using Trinamool to further their personal interests, he added: “Those who had come to Trinamool Congress from Congress have been using the party to suit their personal interests and not expand the organisation. They did not resign from their posts (in the Assembly) before joining TMC. They are now supporting the BJP’s candidate for the Presidential election. They have chosen money over our party.” Sources said the five Congress MLAs may join BJP later this month.
Meanwhile, TMC vice-president Mukul Roy, who was in-charge of party affairs in Tripura, has been replaced by Bidhannagar Mayor Sabyasachi Dutta. “We have decided to make Sabyasachi Dutta the new party observer for Tripura. We are with the people of Tripura but not with those who do not care for the party,” Chatterjee said.