A confident Amilt Shah says his party will form next government in the state, warns Mamata you ‘you will be alone’ by the time the polls start
KOLKATA — As expected, Home Minister Amit Shah’s promised visit to West Bengal on Saturday has proved to be stormy.
He has been able to poach leaders not only from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), but also from the Congress and even several constituents of the Left Front even as elections to the 294-member assembly are due in April-May.
While addressing his party’s (Bharatiya Janata Party-BJP) rally in Midnapore, Shah warned Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister and TMC founder whom the BJP helped dislodge the Left Front ten years ago, that “you will be alone” by the time the polls started.
The saffron party chose to hold a public meeting in Midnapore, a stronghold of TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari who quit Mamata’s party and joined BJP along with Sunil Kumar Mondal MP from Bardhaman Purba; nine MLAs; and several others.
A confident Shah called on Bengal voters to give his party a 5-year mandate and promised to turn the state into “Sonar Bangla”. He was so confident that he also claimed that his party would form the next government with 200 seats of the 294 seats in the assembly.
Though TMC has dismissed those leaving the party as “good riddance”, it is going to impact the party at a time when assembly elections are due in less than six months. A total of 10 TMC MLAs, an MP and a former MP have joined BJP. A look at the profile of those joining the party makes an interesting read:
Adhikari, who comes from a political family, began his political career as Congress Chhatra Parishad leader at the age of 20. He joined the cooperative movement in Midnapore in 1996. Three years later, he joined TMC. During the Nandigram movement, Adhikari became one of the important lieutenants of Mamata.
According to TMC sources, he played a major role during the 2011 assembly elections when TMC secured a majority for the first time. He was MP from Tamluk in 2009 and 2014. In 2016, he resigned as MP and became MLA from Nandigram. He was a key member of Mamata’s second cabinet.
TMC MP Mondal started his political career in Forward Bloc, a Left Front partner, and was elected MLA from Galsi in 2011. As a Forward Bloc MLA, he voted for the TMC candidate during the Rajya Sabha polls in February 2014. Subsequently, he joined the TMC. He has been elected to the Lok Sabha twice from Bardhaman Purba. He is known to be a close associate of BJP leader Mukul Roy.
TMC MLA Shilbhadra Dutta started his political career as a leader of Congress Chhatra Parishad. He later joined the Congress. In 2006, he switched to TMC. He was made the district youth president of TMYC (Trinamool Youth Congress) in 2009. He was elected MLA from Barrackpore in 2011 and was re-elected in 2016.
Tapasi Mondol is a CPM MLA. In the 2016 assembly elections, he won from the Haldia constituency of Purba Medinipur district.
Ashok Dinda is an MLA from CPI. He was elected MLA from Tamluk of Purba Midnapore in 2016. He was the face of CPI in Purba Midnapore district.
Sudip Mukherjee was elected MLA from Purulia in 2016 as a candidate of the Congress.
Saikat Panja was elected TMC MLA from Manteswar during the by-election in November 2016 after his father and sitting MLA Sajal Panja passed away.
Dipali Biswas, a TMC MLA, had contested from the Gazole constituency as a CPM candidate. After Adhikari became the party observer of Malda, Biswas joined TMC in July 2016.
Sukra Munda is an MLA from Nagrakata in Alipurduar district. In 2011, TMC had an alliance with the Congress and the Nagrakata seat was won by Congress candidate Joseph Munda. But in 2016, TMC made Sukra its candidate and he won.
Biswajit Kundu is a two-term TMC MLA from Kalna. Elected from Kalna in 2011, he won again in 2016. A close associate of Adhikari, he was among the MLAs who held a meeting at Mondal’s residence with Adhikari after he resigned as MLA.
TMC MLA Banashree Maity represents the Kanthi Uttar constituency of East Midnapore. She is said to be close to the Adhikari family. She won from Kanthi in 2011 and 2016.
Former TMC MLA Shyamaprasad Mukherjee used to represent the Bishnupur constituency in Bankura district. He was also a minister in the first cabinet of Mamata. After his name came up in the chit fund case, he was removed from the cabinet. He lost the 2016 elections from Bishnupur.
Former TMC MP Dasrath Tirkey joined TMC from RSP in 2014 and was elected MP from Alipurduar. He lost to BJP’s John Barla in 2019. He was a three-term MLA (2001, 2006 and 2011) from Kumargram and MoS PWD during the Left Front rule.