Agartala, Jan 13 (PTI) Tripura Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath has disqualified under the anti-defection law MLA Ratan Lal Nath who recently crossed over to the BJP from the Congress.

Nath, who was elected to the Assembly on a Congress ticket from Mohanpur constituency had joined the BJP on December 22 last year ahead of the state Assembly elections which are due in the first half of this year.

The Speaker told reporters here today that he disqualified Nath from the Assembly under the anti-defection law on the basis of a complaint lodged by Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president Birajit Sinha.

The Speaker served notices to Sinha and Nath on January 1 after the TPCC chief’s complaint and told them to be present in his chamber on January 8 to hear the complaint.

Nath then wrote a letter to the Speaker saying he was ill and wouldn’t be able to attend the hearing. He also said that he was expelled from the Congress by the TPCC president and hence the anti-defection law would not be applicable on him.

“I had received a complaint from TPCC president for cancellation of membership of Nath and accordingly called Nath and Sinha to be present on January 8. Nath wanted time and I told him to appear before me yesterday (January 12) but he did not. Then I decided to expel him under the anti-defection Act,” the Speaker said.

The term of the present 60-member Tripura House expires on March 14.

The Congress had 10 MLAs in the House after the 2013 Assembly election. Six of the Congress MLAs joined the Trinamool Congress and then switched over to the BJP.

Initially, the BJP had no MLAs in the House but the saffron party’s strength rose to six after the switch-over.

With Nath’s joining the party, the strength increased to seven. However, Nath has now been disqualified.

The Congress is now left with two MLAs in the Assembly after one Congress MLA recently quite the party on his own.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.