In blow to Mamata, 3 MLAs, 60 councillors from Bengal join BJP
New Delhi, May 28 (IANS): In a huge blow to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, two Trinamool Congress MLAs and more than 60 councillors joined the BJP here on Tuesday along with a CPI-M MLA, with BJP veteran Kailash Vijayvargiya predicting many more defections.
The dramatic development, just five days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) breached the Trinamool fortress, led to the saffron outfit taking control of three municipalities in the state from the ruling party.
Trinamool Congress-turned-BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy, a two-term MLA from Bijpur constituency, Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya from Bishnupur (Trinamool) and Debendra Roy of Hemtabad (CPI-M) were the MLAs who joined the BJP at the party headquarters here.
So did more than 60 councillors from the municipalities of Kanchrapara, Halishahar and Naihati amid cries of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Jai Shri Ram”.
As a result, all three Municipalities will now be ruled by the BJP.
Vijayvargiya, the BJP in-charge of West Bengal and a party Genreal Secretary, asserted that more Trinamool Congress leaders would join the saffron party soon.
Vijayvargiya said: “We will do a seven-phase programme of joining, just like the state saw elections in seven phases.”
He said that every month more and more people will join the BJP. “Those who feel suffocated in the TMC because of Mamata want to join the BJP.”
But he said that the BJP will be selective. “Not everyone will be allowed (to join). Only those eligible will be allowed.”
He said his best wishes were with Mamata Banerjee so that she remains the Chief Minister till 2021. “But if her ‘karma’ and people work like this, we cannot help.”
Added Mukul Roy, once a right hand of Mamata Banerjee and now in the BJP: “The way Bengal is going under the leadership of Vijayvargiya, all the TMC people will join the BJP. From June 1 or 2, you will see the queue of MLAs.”
The BJP stunned the Trinamool Congress by winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats — from just two bagged in 2014.
The councillors who embraced the BJP included 17 each from Kanchrapara and Halishahar municipalities and 29 from Naihati municipality. Some panchayat heads also walked over to the BJP.
A despondent Trinamool Congress admitted there was a “minor crisis” in the party but vowed to bounce back in the 2021 Assembly elections.
“The Lok Sabha vote was not based on any people-centric issue. Polarisation and ‘Chowkidar’ were the issues. It is a minor crisis for our party. It has faced bigger crises. We will bounce back,” West Bengal Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Tapas Roy said.
While campaigning in West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that 40 MLAs from the Trinamool Congress were in touch with him.
Reacting to Modi’s claim, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’ Brien had boasted: “Nobody will go with you. Not even one councillor.”
Mamata reshuffles state cabinet after poll drubbing
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made major changes in her cabinet on Tuesday following the drubbing her party, Trinamool Congress, received in the Lok Sabha elections.
Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikary was entrusted with two more departments of Irrigation and the Water Resources Investigation and Development (WRI&D), she told reporters at the state secretariat.
Bratya Basu has been given additional charge of the Forest Department along with his portfolio of the Science and Technology and Biotechnology Department, Banerjee said. Minister for Fire Department Sujit Bose was made the Minister of State of the Forest Department.
Somen Mahapatra, who was the Minister for Water Resources Investigation & Development, was given the charges of Environment and Pollution and the Public Health Engineering Department (PHE), she said.
Malay Ghatak will now look after the Labour and Law department, the chief minister said. Rajib Banerjee, who was in-charge of the Backward Class Welfare Department, will also look after the SC, ST and the Tribal Affairs Department, Banerjee said.
Senior TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee, who lost to BJP’s Subhas Sarkar in the Bankura Lok Sabha seat, was retained as Panchayat Minister.
Chandrima Bhattacharyya, who was the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing, was also given the additional responsibility as Minister of State for Panchayat Department.
Former Forest Department Minister Binay Krishna Barman and Western Region Development Minister Shantiram Mahato were kept as ministers without any portfolio, she said. The reshuffle comes amid a stupendous performance of the BJP in West Bengal, where it won 18 Lok Sabha seats, only four less than Banerjee’s TMC out of the total 42 parliamentary constituencies in the state.