In a big blow to Mamata Banerjee, two of her West Bengal MLAs and at least 50 TMC councillors yesterday defected to the BJP just days after the saffron party made significant inroads in the state. A CPM MLA has also jumped ship to the BJP.
BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu, who was suspended by the Trinamool for six years for “demeaning the party”, Trinamool MLA Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and CPM legislator Debendra Nath Roy are among those who have joined the saffron party.
They joined the BJP at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi in the presence of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya and Mukul Roy.
Mukul Roy is seen to be instrumental in engineering the defection of TMC leaders to the BJP. Political watchers believe that Roy is one of the key architects of the party’s best ever show in West Bengal, where TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is in power since 2011.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had earlier announced that three MLAs and 50-60 councillors will join the BJP and added that more defections are expected in the future.
“Like the elections were held in seven phases in West Bengal, joining in BJP will also happen in seven phases. Today was just the first phase,” Vijayvargiya said at a press conference in the national capital.
Earlier yesterday, 16 Trinamool councillors of the Kanchrapara Municipality withdrew their membership from the AITC Councillor Party, reported TOI online.
Meanwhile, Mamata has been invited to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow, which she has accepted.
“I have spoken to other Chief Ministers also. Since it is a ceremonial program, we thought of attending it. Yes, I will go,” Mamata told media yesterday.
Putting a temporary end to the unease that had settled over the Congress, Rahul Gandhi has been persuaded to serve as party president for the next 3-4 months, party sources said.
Sources also revealed he will continue as Congress party president till an alternative is found.
Rahul Gandhi has been authorised to make structural changes and rejig the organisation for strengthening the party, reported India Today online.
However, he remains adamant on his decision to quit. According to sources, Rahul Gandhi’s decision to quit the post of Congress president remains “non-negotiable”.
Rahul had a series of visitors yesterday with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as well as Rajasthan’s ruling duo Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot calling on him amid rumblings of discontent in the state and his insistence on quitting.
Priyanka Gandhi was present during the discussions, party insiders said. The party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and general secretary K C Venugopal also met the party president at his Tughlaq Lane home.
It is not immediately known what transpired at the meetings.