Udayavni Special

TMC faces a fresh spate of defections to BJP, loses control over Malda Zilla Parishad


Team Udayavani, Mar 9, 2021, 10:07 AM IST

Kolkata: The ruling TMC was rocked by a fresh bout of defections to BJP on Monday before the West Bengal state polls as five of its sitting MLAs quit it after being denied tickets and lost control of Malda zilla parishad.

This was TMC’s second-largest single-day exodus after political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari along with 35 TMC leaders, including five MLAs and an MP, switched over to BJP December last year.

The BJP took control of the 38-member Malda Zilla Parishad after its 23 members changed sides during the day.

Sonali Guha, four-time TMC MLA and a close associate of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee for two decades joined the disgruntled leaders to quit the party and join the BJP, as did 80-year-old Rabindra Bhattacharya, who was a prominent face of the Singur anti-farmland acquisition movement.

Both the leaders had been denied tickets by TMC for the coming polls.

With Bhattacharya joining the saffron camp, TMC has lost both its prominent faces of the Singur and Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement to the saffron camp.

The movement had catapulted TMC to power ending 34 years of Left Front rule in the state.
Suvendu Adhikari will now take on Banerjee, his former mentor at Nandigram.

Another four-time legislator, 85-year-old Jatu Lahiri, and former footballer Dipendu Biswas, a first-time MLA, also switched sides after their names did not feature in the TMC’s candidate list released on March 5.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh handed the party flags to them during the day in the presence of Adhikari and the party’s national vice-president Mukul Roy.

TMC MLA from Sankrail in Howrah district, Sital Sardar joined the saffron party later in the day after being replaced due to “ill health”,

Sarala Murmu, the TMC lawmaker from Habibpur in Malda district who was ommitted from the party’s list of candidate, too switched sides. There was speculation earlier that she might join the BJP as she did not get the desired seat.

The party replaced her with Pradeep Baskey in the morning.

“The TMC is no longer a party of the masses. It has become a family-run party. Honest people have no place in the TMC,” Bhattacharya said.

Guha, who had broken down immediately after getting news of her omission from the list of candidates of TMC released on Friday, said her former party had tried to speak to her.

“But I was no longer interested. I had given more than a hundred per cent to TMC. Didi (Banerjee) and others know that very well. I will now devote myself equally to the BJP in whichever way they use me,” she said.

Murmu, who is known to be a Adhikari loyalist, hit out at TMC saying it does not have an atmosphere to work for the masses.

Actor Tanusree Chakraborty also joined the BJP.

Reacting to Monday’s exodus, senior TMC leader Sougata Roy said it showed that the defecting TMC leaders do not have any moral values and are only hungry for posts.

“It’s good riddance. Just because these leaders were not given tickets, they quit TMC,” Roy said.

An elated BJP said the “beginning of the end of TMC has already begun” and the party will disintegrate soon.

“It is only a matter of time before TMC disintegrates. Those who want to fight against TMC should join us,” Ghosh said.

He, however, said it is not necessary that those who have joined BJP will be given tickets for the coming assembly polls.

Since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP bagged 18 seats, just four less than the ruling TMC and emerged as its main challenger in Bengal, 24 MLAs of the Trinamool Congress, two TMC MP, three belonging to the Congress and the CPI(M) each and one from CPI has crossed over to the saffron camp.

However, except for the former state cabinet ministers – Suvendu Adhikari, Rajib Banerjee and Rajya Sabha MP Dinesh Trivedi none of them resigned as MLAs or MP.

Election for 294-seat Bengal Assembly is poised to be a stiff contest between the TMC and the BJP. The election will be held in eight phases, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27. Votes will be counted on May 2.

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