New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to Bengal appears to have triggered a frenzy of political ship jumping with several Trinamool Congress leaders quitting their party or threatening to quit it during the former Bharatiya Janata Party chief’s trip.
According to BJP vice-president Arjun Singh, several TMC leaders are expected to join the saffron party on Saturday itself in a wave triggered by the resignation of former MLA Suvendu Adhikari.
On Saturday, Shah is supposed to address a rally at Medinipur, Adhikari’s stronghold. Ahead of what appears to be a significant move to BJP – it has been estimated that the former TMC heavyweight can influence voters as many as 40 seats – posters supporting Adhikari’s move and those attempting to shame him for it have come up in the town.
Through Friday, pitched parlays marked the fraught pre-poll atmosphere as TMC leaders attempted to play down the clout of the deserters and significance of the desertions.
However, one of the MLAs who had left TMC have returned.
Pandabeswar MLA and Asansol civic body chief Jitendra Tiwari quit the party on Thursday, hours after he met with Suvendu. By Friday evening, Tiwari was already back in the Trinamool fold as the BJP had purportedly refused to accommodate him. Tiwari issued a statement, as per the report, saying it was a “mistake” to leave Trinamool and he had “reaffirmed his faith” in chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.
Those who have not include TMC MLA and Suvendu loyalist Banasri Maity resigned from the party’s primary membership on Friday.
The two-time MLA from Bengal’s Kanthi Uttar constituency said she sent her resignation to TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee over email, triggering speculation that the legislator might join the long list of ruling party leaders who have either joined the BJP or have plans to do so soon.
Barrackpore MLA Silbhadra Dutta severed ties with the party on Friday morning. Former minister Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, too, has announced that he would leave the TMC and join the BJP.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya termed the desertions in the ruling party in the state as the “beginning of the end of the TMC”. “The party’s (TMC’s) rank and file are not happy with the leadership so they are quitting the party,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition CPI(M) too felt the tremors of the desertions as one of its MLA from Haldia, Tapasi Mondal, said she is quitting from the primary membership of the party as she is not being allowed to work for the people.
Left Front legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said Mondal is “cooking up excuses to join the saffron camp”.
While multiple TMC leaders remain wary of the dual influences of I-PAC strategist Prashant Kishor and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee, many have been keen to play down what is being seen as a spate of desertions.
A TMC MP told The Telegraph, “From what we know, as of this evening, Suvendu is the only proper leader with real mass connect who is going. Those leaving for the BJP now with him are mostly those who fear defeat or denial of candidature by Trinamool.”
(With inputs from PTI)