New Delhi: The saffron surge’s impact in West Bengal was felt on Tuesday when two ruling Trinamul MLAs and over 50 municipal councillors, most of them from the Mamata Banerjee-led party, switched over to the BJP which bagged 18 out of total 42 parliamentary seats in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls in the state. One CPI(M) MLA also joined the BJP.
Their induction marks a huge boost for the party that aspires to wrest power from Ms Banjerjee in the next Assembly election in 2021.
In the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s tally jumped from two in 2014 to 18 and its vote share also significantly increased in the bitter, violence-riddled battle with the ruling Trinamul.
Taunting Ms Banerjee on its plan to demolish her supremacy in the state, BJP general secretary and in-charge for the state affairs, Kailash Vijaywargiya, and senior leader Mukul Roy told reporters that more MLAs from the Trinamul will join the saffron party in the coming days.
“Like the elections were held in seven phases in West Bengal, joining the BJP would also happen in seven phases. Today was just the first phase,” said Mr Vijaywargiya.
He said, “We want her government to continue till 2021, but if it falls due to her doings, then we cannot help it.”
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attacked Ms Banerjee, saying that once lotus blooms everywhere on May 23 her party leaders will leave her. He had also claimed that 40 Trinamul MLAs were in touch with him.
Ms Banerjee had retorted by accusing Mr Modi of horse-trading and dared him to find even “one” deserter from her party.
Taking a jibe at the Prime Minister, Trinamul’s Derek O Brien had called him an “expiry babu” and asserted that “not even one councillor” would join the BJP. The Trinamul had also complained to the Election Commission.
The three Bengal MLAs who joined the BJP on Tuesday included party leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy. Subhrangshu Roy was expelled by the Trinamul on Monday for alleged “anti-party activities”.
On Tuesday, TMC MLA Tusharkanti Bhatt-acharya and CPI(M)’s Debendra Nath Roy also joined the BJP.
Once a close confidante of Ms Banerjee, Mr Mukul Roy joined the BJP in 2017 after falling out with her. Since his joining the BJP, almost half-a-dozen TMC heavyweights have joined the saffron fold.
After the induction of TMC leaders into the BJP on Tuesday, Mr Mukul Roy claimed that Ms Banerjee would “stick to her chair at all costs till people decide to remove her” and asserted that in 2021 Assembly polls, her party would have to “struggle to get the status of the Opposition party”.
The TMC had won 211 of the Assembly’s 294 seats in 2016. The BJP had won only three seats, but since then it has emerged as the principal challenger to the TMC.
With over 50 councillors joining the BJP, the party now has majority in at least three municipal councils — Kanch-rapara, Halishahar and Naihati....