A fresh challenge has been thrown in front of the TMC government led by Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, as The Sunday Guardian reports that more than 300 Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers from Cooch Behar in West Bengal, along with senior TMC Yuva Morcha leader, Nishith Paramanik and a former CISF commandant and Arjuna awardee, Chhaya Adak, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party at their national headquarters in Delhi on Thursday.
Amongst over 300 workers, there are elected sarpanches from various villages of Cooch Behar district. Meanwhile, more than 150 of them are members of the Panchayat Samiti from several villages across the district.
BJP leader, Mukul Roy, who is also an ex TMC leader, told The Sunday Guardian, “All of these people who have joined the BJP today were active members of the TMC in Cooch Behar and most of them are elected members of the gram panchayat. They have joined the party today under the leadership of Nishith Paramanik (TMC’s leader of the youth wing). They will all work for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections and help the party secure the Cooch Behar seat,” Roy confirmed.
As per reports, all the 300 workers have joined the BJP under the leadership of Nishith Pramanik, the rebel youth wing leader of TMC who is believed to be close to Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of Mamata Banerjee, who is also the national president of the TMC’s youth wing.
Nisith Paramanik while speaking to The Sunday Guardian confirmed, “Around 350 people from Cooch Behar joined the BJP today and these are people who won the panchayat elections on a TMC ticket. However, we have all decided to quit the TMC and join the BJP because of the lack of democracy in Bengal. The government and the TMC are being run on the whims and fancies of ‘pisi’ and ‘bhaipo’ (aunt, as in Mamta Banerjee and nephew, as in Abhishek Banerjee). TMC has become like a private limited company. We all believe that if anybody can help West Bengal and the country, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and we are certain that the BJP will win the Cooch Behar seat in the Lok Sabha elections.”
According to a senior BJP functionary of Bengal, several sitting MPs of TMC are also waiting to join BJP, “We are in talks with several TMC leaders who are willing to join the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, but they are just waiting for the right time. Some were scheduled to join on Thursday along with these people from Cooch Behar, but now they will join after the elections are declared. Even some Congress leaders are waiting to join the BJP in Bengal. They are afraid to go public now, because of the present situation in Bengal. Let the elections are declared and you will see how many join the BJP in Bengal.”
This can be seen as a repetition of the past, when last year, the Mamata government lost around 600 of its workers to the BJP.
One of the biggest high profile exits from the TMC, former union minister Mukul Roy joined the BJP in November 2017, after quitting his former party in September of that year. Former captain of India’s football team Baichung Bhutia too quit the TMC in February but did not associate with any other political party.
The beginning of this year was also marked with similar embarrassment for TMC as Saumitra Khan, Member of Parliament from the Trinamool Congress, had formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on January 9, 2019.
Such defections raise the question of whether political workers at the grassroots level are losing faith in the TMC and whether they are starting to see the BJP as an alternative political force in the state.