The BJP’s “Mission Bengal” gathered pace on Tuesday, with three MLAs from West Bengal joining the party at its headquarters in New Delhi, along with 50 municipal councillors from Kanchrapara, Halishahar and Naihati. Of the three legislators, Shubhrangshu Roy from Trinamool Congress is former Union Minister Mukul Roy’s son; the other two are Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and Debendra Nath Roy.
Roy crossed over from the CPI(M) and Bhattacharya from the Trinamool Congress. The latter, elected on a Congress ticket from Bishnupur, had crossed over to Trinamool two years ago but did not resign his seat after doing so.
Boost in local bodies
With over 50 councillors joining the BJP, the party now has a majority in at least three municipal councils. Speaking at the event, BJP general secretary in-charge of West Bengal Kailash Vijaywargiya said that more crossovers were on the anvil.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared at an election rally in West Bengal that 40 disgruntled Trinamool MLAs were in touch with the BJP and could shift loyalties. Vijaywargiya said that the crossovers would happen “in seven phases”.
Sources in the party said the BJP was in touch with MLAs in those Assembly segments where the BJP had posted a lead in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. “The BJP led in 128 Assembly segments, out of a total of 295 (294 for which elections took place, with one nominated seat for the Anglo Indian community) and we are in touch with many of them,” said a senior leader.
Mukul Roy jibe
Mukul Roy, once considered a confidant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee before falling out with her and joining the BJP in 2017, mocked her claims that she had wanted to resign following her party’s less than expected showing in the general elections, terming it a “drama”.
Trinamool’s tally fell to 22 seats from 34, while that of the BJP went up to 18 from two in the Lok Sabha polls. “She will stick to her chair at all costs till people decide to remove her,” Roy said, claiming that in the Assembly polls due in 2021, her party would struggle to get the status of the opposition party.
Trinamool had won 211 of the 294 Assembly seats in 2016. The BJP had won only three, but has since emerged as the principal challenger. A party needs to win at least 10% of the seats to be officially recognised as the main opposition party.
“People are fleeing Trinamool to join the BJP. Many more will join in the coming weeks,” Roy said. “We want her (Ms. Banerjee’s) government to continue till 2021, but if it falls due to her doings, then we cannot help it,” he said.
Roy also rejected Trinamool’s claim that the BJP was practising horse-trading. Many MLAs of other parties, including Congress, had joined Trinamool due to “horse-trading”, he said.