In less than a week since the Lok Sabha election results showed BJP making deep inroads into West Bengal, two Trinamool Congress MLAs, and more than 50 councillors joined the BJP on Tuesday. Two Trinamool Congress MLAs, Subhranshu Roy from Bijpur and Tushar Kanti Bhattacharjee from Bishnupur joined the saffron brigade today. The other MLA who sought BJP membership was CPI(M) legislator from Hemtabad Devendra Roy.
“Like the elections were held in seven phases in West Bengal, joinings in BJP will also happen in seven phases. Today was just the first phase,” BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya, said hinting at more such joining due to take place in future to.
In the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 18 out of 42 seats in West Bengal, which was a multi-fold increase from its tally of only two seats in 2014 elections. The party’s vote share also zoomed to 40.25 per cent in 2019 from 16.8 per cent in 2014. It has only three MLAs in the 294-member Assembly.
MPs, MLAs changing parties is nothing new. The period prior to the Lok Sabha polls has been witness to many such instances where leaders had officially switched their allegiance. BJP leader Arjun Singh had crossed over from Trinamool in March. A host of others did so even after the elections had started. On Tuesday, however, the number of leaders gathered at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi to acquire membership of the party was huge.
Who all joined BJP
Two Trinamool Congress MLAs, Subhrangshu Roy from Bijpur and Tushar Kanti Bhattacharjee from Bishnupur joined the saffron brigade on Tuesday. The other MLA who sought BJP membership was CPI(M) legislator from Hemtabad Devendra Roy. Apart from these, more than 50 councillors too joined the BJP in presence of Vijayvargiya and BJP leader Mukul Roy. These include 17 out of 24 members of the Kachrapara Municipality, 17 out of 23 members of Halisahar Municipality and 29 out of 31 members of Naihati Municipality, said Roy.
Rats abandoning ship sensing danger, reacts TMC
After being abandoned by its party workers, TMC decided to expel them. “We will expel them from the party. Subhrangshu is already under suspension. We are not bothered about such opportunists. People will give them a befitting reply,” PTI quoted a senior TMC leader as saying. Kolkata Mayor and Trinamool leader Firhad Hakim compared the turncoats to “rats” who are known to abandon a ship when in danger. “If some of the leaders join the BJP just because it has won a few seats, they are nothing, but rats who abandon a ship sensing danger. It is good that they have left our party,” Hakim said.
Suhrangshu Roy follows father Mukul Roy’s footsteps
The most prominent among those who changed colours on Tuesday was Subhranshu Roy, the son of BJP leader Mukul Roy. The Trinamool Congress had on Friday suspended Subhranshu for six years for anti-party comments. Subhrangshu, a two-time MLA from Bijpur assembly constituency which is part of the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, had held a press conference earlier that day and hailed his father’s organisational skills. He had said he had tried to give a lead to his party from his assembly segment but failed to do so as his father was a better organisational player than him.
Mukul Roy, once considered to be the second-in-command of the Trinamool Congress, joined the BJP in 2017 after a fallout with party supremo Mamata Banerjee. He is also being credited for the outstanding victory of the BJP in Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections.
PM Modi’s “40 TMC MLAs in touch with me” remark
Although the defection of TMC workers to BJP is seen as a major blow to Mamata Banerjee’s party, speculations had arisen almost a month back when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned about 40 TMC MLAs keeping in touch with him. PM Modi, while campaigning in Kolkata last month, had said, “Didi (Mamata Banerjee), on May 23 when the results will come, lotus will bloom everywhere and your MLAs will leave you. Even today, Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in contact with me.”
His remarks drew an angry response from the TMC which accused Modi of horse trading and said it would complain to the Election Commission. TMC leader Derek O’Brien lashed out at the PM and said, “Expiry Babu PM, let’s get this straight. Nobody will go with you. Not even one councillor. Are you election campaigning or horse trading! Your expiry date is near. Today, we are complaining to the Election Commission. Charging you with horse trading,” he tweeted.
Aiming for two-third majority in next assembly polls: Vijayvargiya
BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya, who is also the party’s Bengal in-charge, Tuesday even said he is confident of forming the next government in Bengal. “The BJP will definitely form government in the state in 2021 polls and is aiming for 221 seats in the 294-member West Bengal assembly. Youth and development-oriented people have moved away from both Mamata and the Left,” he said.
The party has been crediting its success in Lok Sabha elections to its cadres especially those working as booth agents. At present, the BJP has a presence on 70 per cent booths, and in next year or so it will have presence on all the booths across the state, Vijayvargiya said. When asked about whether the Mamata-led government will be able to complete its term, Vijayvargiya said the BJP will not do anything to destabilise it. “It may fall on its own due to her dictatorial attitude. We are prepared for early polls,” he said.
Lok Sabha election 2019 results came as a shocker to the Bengal CM as the BJP won 19 out of 42 seats in the state, which was a huge improvement from its 2014 ranking, in which it could occupy only two seats.
(With inputs from Agencies)