A day after quitting the Trinamool Congress, former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi on Saturday in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, reported PTI. Five other disgruntled leaders of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s camp switched over with him.
Banerjee and MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya, along with former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty and actor Rudranil Ghosh, flew to the Capital on a special plane from Kolkata. Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Vice President Mukul Roy and West Bengal leader Kailash Vijayvargiya travelled with them.
The rebel TMC leaders met Shah at his residence in Delhi, following which they announced their decision to join the saffron party. The home minister, in a tweet, congratulated the politicians, and said he was certain that their induction would “further strengthen BJP’s fight for Sonar Bangla”.
Rajib Banerjee’s intentions to join the BJP was well known. Ahead of his joining, the politician had said he was willing to work with the party “for the betterment of people”.
“If I get an assurance on the state’s development, if I get an assurance that I can work for the betterment of people, I will join the BJP,” he had told reporters at the Kolkata airport.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress, which has seen a mass exodus ahead of the Assembly elections, said that those who are leaving will fail to “create much impact”, reported PTI.
Political turmoil began for the TMC after former state minister and a close associate of Mamata Banerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, quit the party in December. After a long drawn period of public dissatisfaction with the ruling TMC, Adhikari joined the BJP during Shah’s two-day visit to West Bengal on December 19. Earlier, he resigned from all the positions he held in the Trinamool Congress on December 17. This came a day after he resigned as a member of the Legislative Assembly and almost 20 days after he resigned as West Bengal transport minister. He had quit from the post of chairperson of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners too.
Besides Adhikari, six MLAs of the TMC, one each from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Congress also joined the BJP. Two-time TMC MP from Bardhaman Purba Lok Sabha constituency Sunil Mondal also defected to the BJP.
On January 5, West Bengal Minister of State for Youth Services and Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla had resigned from his post. He will, however, continue as an MLA.