A Trinamool Congress legislator and 12 party councillors in West Bengal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party at an event in New Delhi on Monday. Trinamool Congress Noapara MLA Sunil Singh is the fourth lawmaker to quit the ruling party after the Lok Sabha election results were declared.
“Public in West Bengal wants ‘Sab ka Saath, Sabka Vikas’,” Singh told ANI. “In Delhi, there is Modi ji’s [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] government and we want the same govt to be formed in the state. So that we can develop West Bengal.”
Singh is the legislator from Noapara in the North 24 Paraganas district and is the brother-in-law of Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh who had also defected to the BJP before the Lok Sabha elections. Singh is also the chairperson of the TMC-run Garulia municipality, The Indian Express reported.
“The BJP has emerged as a strong player in West Bengal politics and is the first preference for those who want peace and development in the state,” PTI quoted BJP General Secretary and West Bengal in charge Kailash Vijayvargiya as saying. Lawmakers from various parties in the state have been defecting to the saffron party for the past several months now.
This mass defection comes weeks after the BJP had welcomed three MLAs from West Bengal and at least 50 councillors, primarily from the Trinamool Congress. BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son and Bijpur MLA Subhrangshu Roy, Trinamool Congress’ Bishnupur MLA Tusharkanti Bhattacharjee, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Hemtabad MLA Debendra Nath Roy and the councillors were inducted into the saffron party on May 28. One day later, another Trinamool Congress MLA Manirul Islam also joined the BJP.
The Trinamool Congress had downplayed the defection of two of its legislators and the 50 councillors as a “temporary phase” and a “minor crisis”.
The defection will bring the Trinamool Congress’ strength in the West Bengal Assembly down to 209. 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. 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.