All six TMC legislators of Tripura on Thursday made their first public appearance at a BJP-BPF-AGP meeting held in Guwahati to extend support to the NDA’s Presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind, with its leader Sudip Roy Barman saying it was just a matter of time before they join BJP. One Congress MLA from Tripura Ratan Lal Nath too flew down to Guwahati to extend support to Kovind.
“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 formal joining in the BJP,” Barman told The Indian Express immediately after pledging support to Kovind.
Barman earlier formally announced support of the six TMC legislators of Tripura to Kovind in the presence of Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, with Assam BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Das and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav seated alongside the NDA’s Presidential candidate on the dias. “We offer you our unstinted support. It is a great honour and privilege for us to be present here,” Barman, speaking on behalf of the six TMC legislators said.
When asked, Barman said there was no party whip in Presidential elections. “We would have kept quiet and silently voted for the NDA candidate. But the six of us sat down and discussed, after which we decided to come out openly in support of Kovind. Our support is unconditional,” he said.
On joining the BJP, Barman said they have not yet received any formal invitation from the party. “We have not yet received any invitation. 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 ensuing 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 also accompanied the six TMC and one Congres MLA from his state to the meeting organized by the Assam BJP to extend support to Kovind, on the other hand said the decision of the TMC legislators had only 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 left for a formality, which we will soon organize,” Deb said.