Trinamool Congress MLA Manirul Islam on Wednesday became the latest leader from his party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. He joined the saffron party with other TMC leaders Gadadhar Hazra, Mohammed Asif Iqbal and Nimai Das in the presence of BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Mukul Roy claimed that his party was communicating with more than 100 Trinamool Congress leaders, NDTV reported.

The Trinamool Congress had on Tuesday downplayed the defection of two of its legislators and at least 50 councillors to the Bharatiya Janata Party as a “temporary phase” and a “minor crisis”.

Two Trinamool Congress legislators – Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy and Bishnupur MLA Tusharkanti Bhattacharjee – joined the saffron party at an event in New Delhi on Tuesday. Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Debendra Nath Roy, and TMC councillors from Kanchrapara, Halisahar and Naihati municipalities also joined the BJP on Tuesday.

The Trinamool Congress, in an official statement, said the people of West Bengal were firmly with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, reported News18. “Today, two of 221 MLAs went to BJP,” the party said. “One was a son – a step in the right direction for BJP to encourage dynastic politics.”

Trinamool Congress leader and chief whip in the state Assembly Tapas Roy said the defection was not a crisis at all, The Hindu reported. “I refuse to call it a crisis when some opportunists have switched sides,” Roy said at press conference in Kolkata. “We are keeping an eye on the situation.”

Urban Development Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim described the defection as a “minor crisis”, The Times of India reported. “When a ship is rocked in the face of a storm, the rats jump into the sea without knowing their fate,” Hakim said. “The same is happening now. We are sure that those who are joining the BJP are forced to do so.”

Former minister Madan Mitra and North 24 Parganas district President Jyotipriya Mullick, who were also present the press conference in Kolkata, said a number of party offices in the district have now been occupied by the BJP.

The defection will bring the Trinamool Congress’ strength in the West Bengal Assembly down to 210. However, it is far ahead of the halfway mark of 148.

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.