On a day several TMC councillors returned to the party a month after joining the BJP, helping the ruling party in West Bengal to regain Kanchrapara and Halisahar municipalities in North 24 Parganas district and South Dinajpur Zilla Parishad, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy on Saturday claimed that more than 100 MLAs, most of them from TMC, are in touch with the saffron party “Nearly 107 MLAs are in touch with us. Majority of them are from the TMC — a few are from the Congress and CPI(M),” Roy said, without providing details.
TMC leader and party Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee dismissed Roy’s claims.
Addressing the media, Banerjee said, “After he caused defections, the media described Mukul Roy as the Chanakya of Bengal politics. Now a large number of them have returned to us. This so-called Chanakya should be described as a Chanakya who is made in China. A leader who cannot hold on to TMC councillors in his party is claiming that more than 107 TMC MLAs are in touch with him…”
Banerjee said, “Out of 24 councillors at Kanchrapara, we had 22 councillors, of whom 17 had joined the BJP on May 28. Five councillors had returned earlier, and today nine more have returned. We already had five councillors. After this, we have 19 out of 24 councillors in Kanchrapara — we clearly have the majority and will form the board.”
Many TMC leaders joined the BJP in the run-up to, and especially after the Lok Sabha polls results. In most cases, the defections were engineered by Roy.
Banerjee also maintained that TMC has gained the majority in Halisahar municipality after one more councillor returned to the party. “Out of total 23 councillors in Halisahar, many of our councillors had gone to the BJP. On July 9, 12 councillors returned to TMC and today one more rejoined us. So we have support of 13 councillors out of 23,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Roy claimed this “return” to the TMC is a part of his party’s strategy. “This is nothing but a political strategy. Just wait and watch. They might be in TMC, but they will work for BJP…,” he asserted.
On July 10, the TMC retained Haringhata municipality in Nadia by registering support of nine councillors in the 17-ward civic body during a no-confidence motion brought by BJP. The no-confidence motion was brought after several TMC councillors pledged their support to the BJP.
The TMC also regained majority in South Dinajpur Zilla Parishad after three out of 11 TMC members who had defected to the BJP earlier this month returned to the Trinamool. Out of 18 Zilla Parishad seats, the TMC now has support of 11 members, party leaders pointed out.
Local BJP leader Suvendu Sarkar said, “Trinamool leaders are using police and administration to force them to return to their party. This will not work forever. More such leaders will join the BJP in the coming days.”