10 MLAs join BJP at Amit Shah’s Bengal rally

10 MLAs join BJP at Amit Shah’s Bengal rally

Seven sitting legislators of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), including prominent leader Suvendu Adhikari, and three others from the Left and the Congress on Saturday afternoon joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah at a rally in Midnapore town of West Bengal’s West Midnapore district.

The assembly polls in the state are due in five months and the defections could prove to be a headache for chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

“Didi (Mamata Banerjee), listen very carefully. Today, I have come to declare that when the election results are announced BJP will get more than 200 seats,” Shah said in a short but fiery speech. In the evening, Shah discussed election strategy at a closed-door meeting in Kolkata. It was attended by BJP leaders from other states as well.

Among the 10 MLAs who switched sides, Adhikari is the only one who submitted his resignation to the assembly but it has not been accepted yet on technical grounds. He touched Shah’s feet while taking the BJP flag from the Union home minister.

“None of those who left were leaders of significance. The TMC will win the polls without a hitch,” TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy said even as posters calling Adhikari Mir Zafar (the general who betrayed Bengal’s last independent nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey in 1757) appeared in East Midnapore, the rebel’s home turf. Some offices set up by his followers were also ransacked. Adhikari has been provided security by central paramilitary forces.

The TMC’s Burdwan East Lok Sabha MP Sunil Mandal, former minister Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, former Lok Sabha member from north Bengal’s Alipurduar, Dasrath Tirkey, and 15 civic body councillors of the TMC and other parties picked up the BJP flag along with at least 20 district-level leaders. Significantly, several members from Muslim organisations set up by the TMC also joined the BJP.

“Didi, you are talking of switching sides. Didn’t you leave the Congress and form the TMC? Wasn’t it changing allegiance? Now you are accusing Suvendu Bhai of changing sides. Thousands of people are waiting to join the BJP. Just wait and watch,” said Shah. 

“Can you see the future of millions of youths who need jobs? You can only see your nephew and want to make him the chief minister,” Shah, who earlier in the day had lunch at a farmer’s home, said, without naming Abhishek Banerjee, the chief minister’s nephew and Lok Sabha member.

Adhikari too delivered a short but vitriolic speech.

“You (Mamata Banerjee) will not be number one again. You will be number two. I do not recognise anyone as my mother, except the one who gave birth to me, and my country,” said Adhikari. 

Targeting Banerjee and the TMC for branding the BJP’s national leaders as “outsiders,” Adhikari said, “Amit Shah Ji, JP Nadda Ji and the others are being called outsiders. India is one nation. I want Bengal and India to have the same government or else Bengal will not survive. There are no jobs, no progress. We have to ensure Narendra Modi’s government in Bengal.”

Targeting Abhishek Banerjee and calling him a tolabaaj (extortionist), Adhikari raised the slogan, “Tolabaaj bhaipo hatao” (oust the extortionist nephew).

His elder brother Dibyendu Adhikari, the two-time Lok Sabha member from Tamluk constituency in East Midnapore, said, “Joining the BJP was Suvendu’s personal decision. I joined the TMC as I was inspired by Mamata Banerjee. I will remain a part of the party.”

Their father Sisir Adhikari, three-time Lok Sabha member from Kanthi and part of the TMC since its birth in 1998, sent a similar message to the leadership although he avoided the media on Saturday. 


Election strategist Prashant Kishor, the owner of I-Pac, and Abhishek Banerjee have been cited by all the rebels as reasons for leaving the TMC. Kishor was roped in after the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

Apart from Adhikari, the other TMC MLAs who joined the BJP are Shilbhadra Dutta from Barrackpore; Banashri Maiti from the Kanthi North in East Midnapore; Sukra Munda from Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district; Biswajit Kundu from Kalna in East Burdwan; Saikat Panja from Manteswar in East Burdwan and Dipali Biswas, CPI(M) MLA from Gazole in Malda district. Biswas won the Gazole seat for the CPI(M) in 2016 but later joined the TMC. “TMC did not let me work,” Biswas said.


The lawmakers from other parties are Sudip Mukherjee, Congress MLA from Purulia district; Ashok Dinda, Communist Party of India (CPI) MLA from Tamluk; and Tapasi Mandal, CPI(M) legislator from Haldia in East Midnapore district.

“The CPI(M) leaders who joined the BJP were facing internal investigation for various charges,” said CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

Referring the Purulia MLA, state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “I had been hearing for a long time that he was planning to leave. Let us see if he can contest the Purulia seat and win it again. It is my challenge.”

Dasrath Tirkey, former Revolutionary Socialist Party MLA who joined the TMC in 2014 and won the Alipurduar Lok Sabha seat, joined the BJP on Saturday. Tirkey lost the seat to the BJP’s John Barla in 2019. 


Among the others who joined the BJP is retired army colonel Diptangshu Chowdhury, who had quit the BJP in 2017 and joined the TMC. On Thursday, he stepped down from the posts of chairman of the South Bengal State Transport Corporation and adviser to the monitoring cell on programme implementation of government welfare services in the chief minister’s office.

TMC Lok Sabha member Kalyan Banerjee said the rally was a “flop show” as people were brought from several districts to fill up the college ground. “People started to leave even before Shah began to speak,” he said at a press conference at the TMC headquarters in Kolkata.

“You (Adhikari) are driven by greed. What didn’t you get in the TMC? You were a minister with three departments. You held other important portfolios. Your family is in control of two Lok Sabha constituencies and a civic body. You have no right to say that the party did not give you anything,” said Kalyan Banerjee. 


On Sunday, Shah will have lunch with the family of a baul singer in Birchum district, where he is also scheduled to attend a road show.


Seven sitting legislators of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), including prominent leader Suvendu Adhikari, and three others from the Left and the Congres

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