All six Trinamool MLAs in Tripura are likely to join the BJP in the last week of July, sources have said. This, at a time, when five of them have said they’ll support NDA’s candidate in Presidential polls and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has removed Mukul Roy as TMC’s in-charge in Tripura.
Reacting to TMC legislators announcing support for NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb told The Indian Express, “This is a timely decision. Eventually, TMC MLAs have read the writing on the wall in Tripura.”
Deb refused to comment on whether this also meant that the six MLAs, who left Congress in 2016 to join TMC, would join BJP. A source, however, said they were likely to join BJP after July 22. “TMC has six MLAs in Assembly and with all of them joining BJP, there is no question of this falling under the purview of the anti-defection act,” said the source.
While this means that BJP will have a presence in Tripura for the first time, ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls, party leaders said BJP has also decided to “learn from its mistakes in Bengal”.
In the past one week, CBI has issued notices to state Social Welfare and Social Education Minister Bijita Nath and questioned Left leader Gautam Das for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley chit fund scam. But, no BJP leader made any comment on these cases.
This, party leaders said, was their new strategy. Ahead of the 2016 Bengal Assembly polls, when central agencies’ probes against several TMC ministers triggered allegations of political vendetta, BJP chief Amit Shah had given the slogan of ‘Bhaag Mamata Bhaag’. But this, BJP insiders admit, backfired. Last month, Shah is learnt to have instructed party leaders to avoid personal attacks on Tripura leaders and focus on people’s issues.
A BJP leader said, “In east India, this kind of politics doesn’t bode well with people. Politicians tend to avoid personal attacks, especially against people like Manik Sarkar or Mamata Banerjee, who most people continue to believe are honest. The CPM government in Tripura pretends to be for the poor, but does nothing for them. This is what we need to focus on.”
Meanwhile, despite TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee’s announcement in Kolkata on Monday that the party will have “no relations” with the five MLAs who pledged support for Kovind, sources in TMC’s Tripura unit said they had received no letter in this regard.
“As of now, they are all TMC MLAs,” a source said. The source added that TMC MLA Dilip Sarkar, who is unwell, didn’t write to Mamata regarding the Presidential election. Hence, Chatterjee didn’t speak about him, the source said.