Former Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and ex-MLA Biswajit Dutta joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tripura on Friday, PTI reported. Dutta alleged his former party’s functioning was marred with factionalism, corruption and criminal practices.

Dutta said that his candidacy on a CPI(M) ticket was a target of a “cruel conspiracy” that led to him being hospitalised before the February 18 Assembly elections. His candidacy for the Assembly election was dropped in favour of former student leader Nirmal Biswas. On April 18, Dutta had resigned from all his posts within the CPI(M).

The BJP and its ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, won the Assembly elections.

Dutta joined the saffron party at a mandal office inauguration ceremony in Khowai and was welcomed into the fold by national secretary and in charge of the Tripura unit Sunil Deodhar. “Biswajit Dutta is among 10 most honest political leaders in Tripura,” Deodhar said. On Facebook, the BJP leader claimed that 473 supporters of the CPI(M) had joined the BJP.

Dutta said he will continue to serve the people under the aegis of his new party. “I believe I shall be able to work for people, give voice to the voiceless and help the downtrodden under the leadership of Chief Minister Biplab Deb and the BJP leadership,” he added.

The 68-year-old former communist leader was associated with the CPI(M) since 1964. Dutta told The Indian Express that an “evil caucus” was plotting against him for the last several years.

Tripura Left Front committee had announced Dutta as its candidate ahead of the Assembly elections. On January 28, Dutta was admitted to the hospital with “severe respiratory ailments”. The former Communist leader, however, said he was forced to drop his election campaign by “staging drama of hospitalisation”. “I was not at all ill,” said Dutta. “I found CPI(M) spokesperson Goutam Das standing in the hospital room where I was being treated. Later, the party stated that I was unfit for contesting and replaced me.”

The CPI(M), however, refuted the allegations. “Everyone knows that Biswajit Dutta was unwell when we announced him candidate,” state leader and former Tripura Assembly Deputy Speaker Pabitra Kar told The Indian Express. “But then his health got worse. How could CPI(M) continue with him as candidate in such an unhealthy condition? Fresh blood has to be accommodated. He was always given due importance.”