The Trinamool Congress on Monday lost control of the South Dinajpur district council after a majority of its leaders switched sides to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Hindustan Times reported. Ten Trinamool Congress members of the council defected to the BJP, giving the party a majority in 18-seat council.

South Dinajpur is the first district council in the state to be taken over by the saffron party. The Trinamool Congress had won all 18 seats during the 2018 elections, according to The Telegraph.

Along with the 10 council members, veteran Trinamool Congress leader Biplab Mitra also joined the BJP. Mitra was removed as South Dinajpur district unit chief of the ruling party after sitting MP Arpita Ghosh lost to BJP’s Sukanta Majumdar in the Lok Sabha elections.

Wilson Champramari, a Trinamool Congress legislator from Kalchini in Alipurduar district, also joined the saffron party. Champramari is the fifth Trinamool Congress MLA to switch camps in the past month, PTI reported.

The Trinamool Congress leaders joined the BJP in the presence of the party’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP state unit chief Dilip Ghosh and national executive member Mukul Roy. “Yeh trailer hai, film abhi baki hai [This is just a trailer, the film is yet to begin],” said Roy, quoting a popular dialogue from a Hindi film, ANI reported.

Roy termed the defections as a “political earthquake” for the the Trinamool Congress. “It is merely an extension of phase one [of getting TMC leaders to join BJP],” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. “By the time we complete the seventh phase, the Mamata Banerjee government will lose majority on the floor of the Assembly.”

The BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, including South Dinajpur and Balurghat seats in the district.

UP-like encounter model for Bengal, says BJP

Meanwhile, two state BJP leaders on Monday promised a “UP-like encounter model for Bengal” if the party came to power in the state, The Telegraph reported.

“After we come to power in Bengal, we would give 72 hours to the state police to arrest all criminals or tell them to surrender,” said the party’s state General Secretary Sayantan Basu in North 24 Parganas district. “If the police fail, they would be given orders to encounter these criminals, like it is done in Uttar Pradesh.”

General Secretary Raju Banerjee made a similar statement in Bankura. “Once we come to power, we will order the police to arrest criminals, and, if required, follow the UP model of encounters.”

In January, the Uttar Pradesh government said the state police had conducted over 3,000 encounters between March 2017 and July 2018, in which 78 alleged criminals were killed.