Fourteen months after he quit the party to float a new one, former Tripura Congress president Pijush Kanti Biswas joined the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday.
The move by Pijush came just three months after his son Pujan Biswas, who used to head his father’s newly formed Tripura Democratic Front, joined the West Bengal-based party with 400 families.
A statement issued by the Trinamool on Thursday said Pijush had met the party chief, Mamata Banerjee, and general secretary Abhishek Banerjee before joining the party. The statement also said he would soon be appointed as the state president of the Trinamool, which has been running without a head since Subal Bhowmik was removed in August, barely six months before the Assembly elections, over “underperformance”.
Pijush joined the Trinamool with others including Tejen Das and Ananta Banerjee—both former Congress general secretaries—and Purnita Chakma, a former Congress working president.
The party also said it was hopeful that the new leaders would together bring a “credible change” to the Northeast state’s political landscape.
Welcoming the new leaders, the party’s state unit tweeted, “Our family strengthens! With an aim to work for the betterment of Tripura, former INC State President Shri Pijush Kanti Biswas joined our Trinamool family today. We wholeheartedly welcome him to our party!”
The TDF is a small party formed by leaders who quit the Congress last year. Former MLA Tapas De and others who had joined the party had said they would work on “Gandhian principles”. It has not succeeded in making any major mark in the state.
Pijush Biswas, who offered to resign alleging non-cooperation from his Congress colleagues in August last year, was placated by the party but was soon replaced by former MLA Birajit Sinha as state chief on September 24.
Two days later, over 35 office-bearers of the Youth Congress resigned citing differences with the central leadership’s choice, saying that six MLAs and their supporters had left the party for the Trinamool and later switched over to the BJP during Sinha’s previous term as state Congress chief.
The exodus effectively dipped the Congress’s vote share in the 2018 Assembly polls. It fell below 2 per cent from what used to be around 44 per cent even during the 25 years since 1993 when the party was defeated by the communists in consecutive elections.
Last year, the Trinamool got a 16.39 per cent vote share in the urban local body elections, finished second in the Agartala Municipal Corporation polls and claimed to be “the BJP’s real challenger”. However, the Bengal party’s prospects were dimmed by its performance in the Assembly bypolls in June, when it polled fewer than 3 per cent votes.
The Trinamool had previously attempted thrice to expand its base in Tripura. It was former chief minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumder who started the party’s state unit in 1999.
Six Congress MLAs shifted camps and joined the Trinamool in 2016, only to further switch over to the BJP a year later. The Trinamool’s rank and file has seen a slight swell since the party’s win in last year’s Bengal Assembly elections.