Former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party last week, on Tuesday said he was ready to contest against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the 2021 Assembly elections, The Indian Express reported. The former Trinamool Congress MLA was considered a close aide of Banerjee.

“When I was in TMC [Trinamool Congress], I was a loyal soldier of that party,” he said. “Now I have joined the BJP and will be its loyal soldier. I will do whatever my party asks me to do. If they ask me to contest against Mamata Banerjee in next election I will do so.”

Chatterjee also denied claims that he joined the BJP to save himself from the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Narada scam. “All of you should remember that it [the Narada scam] is a subjudice matter,” he said. “And there is a huge difference between being accused and proven guilty. Nothing has been proved as of now.”

Chatterjee, on joining the BJP last week, praised the Narendra Modi-led government for taking “bold steps” to strengthen the country. “There should be no negative politics at this point of time,” he said.

In November last year, Chatterjee had resigned as minister after Banerjee rebuked him for allegedly ignoring official responsibilities to focus on personal matters.

Since the Lok Sabha poll results, six TMC legislators and one each from the Congress and the Left have joined the BJP. The saffron party has been making inroads into West Bengal since the General Elections. The Trinamool Congress won just 22 out of the 42 seats in the state during the Lok Sabha elections, while the BJP won 18.

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