Trinamool to BJP: who else might shift allegiance after Laxmi Ratan Shukla?
Sources say several MLAs from the ruling party are likely to join the BJP soon.
After minister of state for sports in West Bengal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, sending his resignation letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the state’s political circles are abuzz with talks of who will be the next in line to sever ties with Bengal’s ruling party.
In November-end of 2020, state minister Subhendu Adhikary had stepped down from the state cabinet, and resigned as Trinamool Congress member, apart from resigning as a member of the legislative assembly. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party during the visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah last month.
Now, with another minister in Bengal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, resigning from the party, there are talks on the other MLAs who may soon resign from the party and join the BJP. Though Shukla has mentioned in his letter to Banerjee that he is resigning because he wants to devote more time to sports, party insiders said that he will soon join the BJP.
A number of Trinamool Congress MLAs (including some ministers) may join the saffron party possibly during Shah’s next visit to Bengal. This includes another minister in the cabinet – Rajib Banerjee. Banerjee has been absent from two consecutive cabinet meetings, leading to speculations on his possibility of resigning from the Trinamool Congress.
Some Trinamool insiders say that Rajib Banerjee is all set to join the saffron party, because the “ambitious” minister is hoping he will have more power in the BJP than he can hope to have if he continues with the Trinamool Congress. “That is how he foresees his future, and he may join the BJP hoping he may have a brighter future in the saffron party,” said a party insider. There have been some meetings between senior Trinamool leaders and Rajib Banerjee in order to discuss possible areas of friction. Despite that, the speculations have not died down. Banerjee himself was not available for comment.
If speculations are anything to go by, another MLA who may join the BJP is Vaishali Dalmiya. Daughter of cricket administrator, late Jagmohan Dalmiya, she joined the Trinamool Congress shortly after her father’s death. She won from the Bally seat of Howrah district, and has already backed Laxmi Ratan Shukla after he resigned from Trinamool Congress on Tuesday. She has said that Shukla may have had some grievances for not being able to work properly in the party. The talks on Dalmiya joining the BJP have been around for sometime. There are also talks that Howrah Municipal Corporation’s former Mayor Rathin Chakraborty may likely join the saffron party on the same day as these three other Trinamool leaders.
According to the buzz, another MLA from Trinamool – a former journalist – is also likely to quit Bengal’s ruling party and join the BJP when Shah comes visiting next. The visit of the Union Home Minister has not been confirmed yet, and the tentative dates may be postponed, said an official, and in that case, the “joining date” for several Trinamool Congress leaders to the BJP may not itself be postponed. This may either be organised in New Delhi or may be held in Kolkata though Shah may not be present on that day, said a party insider.
With the 2021 Assembly elections scheduled less than six months from now, national BJP leaders are visiting Bengal frequently. Several MLAs had joined the BJP from Trinamool Congress during Shah’s last visit, and the party is fast preparing to have some more leaders ready to join the party when he visits next.
According to a Trinamool Congress leader, the party is not rattled as it is being made out to be in the media. “We are aware of who is in talks with which political party. We will make official comments on these at the appropriate time,” he said.
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