At least 50 Trinamool Congress councillors from three civic bodies in West Bengal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, Hindustan Times reported. Two Trinamool Congress MLAs, including BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy, and one Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator also joined the saffron party.

Roy, an MLA from Bijpur, Trinamool Congress’ Bishnupur MLA Tusharkanti Bhattacharjee, CPI(M) Hemtabad MLA Debendra Nath Roy, and the councillors were welcomed into the saffron party at an event in New Delhi by BJP’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

“Just like seven phased Lok Sabha elections, there will be seven phases of TMC defectors joining BJP,” Mukul Roy said, according to India Today. He added that the ruling Trinamool Congress indulged in horse-trading and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of trying to “buy over or threaten our people into jumping ship”.

The BJP leader also claimed that the Trinamool Congress will not be able to secure enough votes to become the Opposition party in the 2021 state Assembly elections.

The councillors said that more than two-third of the Trinamool Congress in the municipality had quit their posts, and joined the BJP. The saffron party is also expected to stake claim for two civic bodies once councillors defect from Trinamool.

Apart from the Kanchrapara municipality, councillors from the Halisahar and Naihati municipalities also reached New Delhi on Tuesday. The other MLAs who reportedly resigned are Sunil Singh from Noapara and Barrackpore’s Shilbhadra Dutta.

The Trinamool Congress won just 22 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while the BJP raised its tally from two seats in 2014 to 18 in the 2019 polls.

Subhrangshu Roy was expelled from the party on May 24, a day after the election results, for anti-party activities. “The manner in which he was expelled from the party just a day after Lok Sabha polls proves that there is no democracy in the Trinamool,” Halisahar Municipality Chairperson Anshuman Roy told the Hindustan Times. “So, we have come to Delhi to express our solidarity and join the BJP.”

Makhan Sinha, the vice chairperson of the Kanchrapara municipality, backed Anshuman Roy’s remarks. He said: “We have come to Delhi to join the BJP. There is no internal democracy in Trinamool. The dream with which we had been in Trinamool for years has been shattered.”

The defection of two MLAs will bring the Trinamool Congress’ strength in the West Bengal Assembly down to 211, which, however, is far ahead of the halfway mark of 148.

On April 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in Serampore city in West Bengal, had claimed that 40 Trinamool Congress MLAs were in touch with him and would switch sides after the Lok Sabha polls ended.