Trinamool Congress MP Sisir Adhikari on Sunday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, following the footsteps of his sons Suvendu Adhikari and Soumendu Adhikari, reported PTI.

He joined the saffron party at a Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally in East Medinipur’s Egra. Sisir Adhikari shouted “Jai Siya Ram, Jai Bharat” at the rally and said: “Save Bengal from atrocities, we are with you, our family is with you,” reported ANI.

Before leaving for Egra, Adhikari, who wields considerable influence in West Bengal’s East Medinipur district, had said that he was forced to switch sides, as the leaders of the TMC left him with no other option. He said he will put up a formidable fight against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to “save the honour of Medinipur”.

“They [TMC leaders] forced me to join the BJP,” he told reporters. “Let them do what they want, and I will do what I can.”

He asserted that his son, Suvendu Adhikari, will bag the Nandigram seat by a comfortable margin. Suvendu Adhikari is pitted against Banerjee. “Suvendu will win the polls by a huge margin,” Sisir Adhikari said. “The TMC will be wiped out of East Midnapore.”

Speaking at the rally, Shah criticised the ruling TMC government. He said that Banerjee had failed to bring about “parivartan” (change) she had promised.

“Has Mamata didi succeeded in stopping infiltration in the state,” Shah asked. “Help us in forming a BJP government here and we will stop infiltration within five years.”

The home minister also attacked the state government on allegations of extortion by local-level leaders, one of the matters the Opposition parties have constantly tried to raise.

“You have to pay cut money for everything, tolabaaji (extortion) is rampant,” Shah said. “And Didi says what if someone has taken Rs 500? It might be nothing for you, Didi. But it means a lot for my poor brothers of Bengal.”

Shah reiterated the criticism of nepotism in Trinamool Congress, cliaming that Banerjee wanted to promote her nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee.

“On one hand Didi wants to make her bhatija (nephew) the chief minister and on the other [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji wants to make ‘Shonar Bangla’,” he added.

Defections from TMC

The Trinamool Congress has been witnessing a spate of defections ahead of the eight-phased elections in the state, from March 27 to April 29.

Political turmoil began for ruling party after 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. He resigned from all the positions he held in the Trinamool Congress on December 17, 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.

Other resignations followed. On March 8, five sitting MLAs and another party leader joined the saffron party. The MLAs were Sonali Guha, Dipendu Biswas, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Jatu Lahiri and Sital Sardar.

On March 6, former Railways Minister and Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi joined the long list of defectors. He joined the BJP in New Delhi, in what he called a “golden moment”, in the presence of party president JP Nadda and others.

On March 2, months after quitting and then making a U-turn to join the Trinamool Congress again, Jitendra Tiwari joined the BJP. Last month, Diamond Harbour MLA Dipak Halder joined the BJP, a day after quitting the Trinamool Congress.

On January 31, former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee joined the BJP along with MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya, former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty and actor Rudranil Ghosh.

On January 5, West Bengal Minister of State for Youth Services and Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned from his post. He will, however, continue as an MLA.