September 3, 2021 2:25:43 am
Under pressure after the return of two of its MLAs to the Trinamool Congress, the BJP is making attempts to arrest the defection in its ranks. On Thursday, BJP MP and its Yuva Morcha national general secretary Raju Bista held a meeting with party workers in Siliguri.
Interestingly, the meeting was held ahead of Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee’s five-day trip to north Bengal starting from September 5. Speculation is rife that several BJP MLAs are likely to join the Trinamool during or after Banerjee’s visit.
Speaking on the possibility of further defection of BJP MLAs to the Trinamool, Bista told reporters, “We have 29 MLAs in north Bengal. We are together now and there is no way anyone is joining the Trinamool. But it is true that our leaders receive phone calls from the Trinamool. Everyone knows that the Trinamool cannot usher in development in Bengal and, therefore, no one will join that party.”
On Wednesday, the BJP threatened legal action against two of its MLAs, who had joined the Trinamool earlier this week, if they did not resign from the assembly within seven days.
On Monday, Bishnupur MLA Tanmoy Ghosh defected to the Trinamool and the day after, another BJP leader and Bagda MLA Biswajit Das also left the saffron camp to join the ruling party.
Reacting to the development, Bista said, “There are people who wants to protect their chairs and that’s why they are leaving our party. But the BJP is not a political party which will crumble after two or three MLAs defect. This is a party, which increased the number of MPs from Bengal to 18 from 2 and number of MLAs to 77 from 3.”
During a meeting of MLAs and MPs from north Bengal on Monday, five MLAs remained absent. The party, however, said that some of them had intimated the party of their inability to attend the meeting while others had unavoidable issues at their homes which kept them away.
“Some could not come due to personal issues while others had informed us in advance that they will remain absent,” added Bista.
However, the development assumes significance ahead of the TMC chief’s visit to north Bengal which will be her first visit since her party’s landslide victory in the Assembly polls.
Sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit north Bengal later this month amid reports that Assembly bypolls could be held in October.
According to party sources, it could be another attempt to stop the defection of party MLAs to the Trinamool ahead of the bypolls.
Bypolls are due in seven Assembly seats, including Bhabanipur which Banerjee is likely to contest. As she could not win the election from Nandigram, Banerjee will have to get elected as an MLA by November 5 to remain chief minister. There are reports that the bypolls could be held before the festive season kicks in from October 10.
In a bid to prevent Banerjee from getting elected as an MLA, the BJP has been speaking against holding of bypolls in the state till the law-and-order situation improves. In its latest move, the state BJP leadership has decided to write a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah detailing why they don’t want bypolls in the state. In addition, the party will also send a delegation to the Election Commission before September 20, explaining why bypolls should not be held in state at this point in time. They will also submit a report to the central leadership and EC in this regard.
“The state government has imposed Covid restrictions in the state. Opposition parties are not allowed to hold their programmes in the state. Local train services are suspended. But the ruling party wants to hold the bypolls. How is it possible to hold bypolls under such circumstances? The Durga Puja is scheduled to begin from October 10. A huge gathering will take place during the festivities. So bypolls should not be held before this festival as it will risk further infection. We will apprise the central leadership of our views on this,” BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said.
Trinamool’s state general secretary Kunal Ghosh, however, said that the BJP is scared to contest the bypolls as they sense defeat. “At least 12 BJP MLAs will join the Trinamool in the days to come. The BJP is getting nervous. They are scared that if bypolls are held, they will lose in all seven seats. That’s why they are delaying the election,” Ghosh said.
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