Three West Bengal MLAs, including BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy, and over 50 municipal councillors, most of them from the Trinamool Congress, joined the saffron party on Tuesday as it works to consolidate its position in the state following its impressive show there in Lok Sabha polls.
The MLAs who joined the BJP at a press conference are TMC’s Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and CPI(M)’s Debendra Nath Roy, besides Roy who was suspended from the state’s ruling party for “anti-party” activities after the general elections results were announced.
BJP general secretary and its in-charge for the state affairs Kailash Vijaywargiya and Mukul Roy told reporters that more MLAs from the TMC, which is headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, will join the saffron party in the coming days.
Mukul Roy, once a Banerjee’s confidant before falling out with her and joining the BJP in 2017, also mocked the chief minister over her claims that she wanted to resign following her party’s less than expected show in the general elections, saying it is a “drama”.
“She will stick to her chair at all costs till people decide to remove her,” he said, claiming that in the assembly polls, which are due in 2021, her party will struggle to emerge to get the status of the opposition party.
A large number of BJP workers, who had assembled to witness the joining ceremony, chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ as the party welcomed the MLAs and the councillors into its party fold.
The TMC had won 211 of the assembly’s 294 seats in 2016. The BJP had won only three seats, but has since emerged as the principal challenger to her. A party needs to win at least 10 per cent of seats to be officially recognised as the main opposition party.
“People are fleeing the TMC to join the BJP. Many more will join in the coming weeks,” Roy said.
With over 50 councillors joining the BJP, the party has got a majority in at least three municipal councils.
Vijaywargiya noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in a speech during his campaign that over 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with the BJP and many regional party leaders are feeling suffocated due to Banerjee’s “dictatorial” functioning.
“We want her government to continue till 2021, but if it falls due to her doings, then we cannot help it,” he said in a swipe at her.
Mukul Roy also rejected the TMC’s claim that the BJP was practising horse-trading by luring its leaders.
Many MLAs of other parties, including the Congress, have joined the TMC due to “horse-trading”, he countered.
Mukul Roy is seen to be instrumental in engineering the defection of TMC leaders to the BJP and, political watchers believe, he is one of the key architects of the party’s best ever Lok Sabha election show in the state, where Banerjee is in power since 2011.
In the polls, the TMC’s tally fell to 22 seats from 34, while the BJP’s zoomed to 18 from two.