AGARTALA: Five-time Congress legislator in Tripura, Ratan Lal Nath, accompanied by a large number of party leaders and workers on Friday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reducing the Congress' strength in the assembly from the original 10 to only 2.
After months of hobnobbing, Nath, former Opposition Leader of Tripura assembly, joined the BJP in the presence of the party's General Secretary Ram Madhav, Assam Ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Parimal Sukla Baidya, Tripura BJP President Biplab Kumar Deb and a host of party leaders.
On August 7, six axed Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs, led by Sudip Roy Barman joined the BJP. The six legislators quit the Congress and joined the TMC in June last year, protesting against the party's alliance with the Left parties before the West Bengal assembly polls.
The six MLAs were recognised as BJP party legislators in the Tripura assembly by Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath on December 8.
Another Congress MLA Jitendra Sarkar, after resigning from the assembly, joined the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) earlier this year. Sarkar also recently joined the BJP.
Addressing the gathering, Ram Madhav said the BJP would oust the ruling CPI-M led Left Front in February's assembly elections.
"After the joining of a large number of leaders and workers from Congress, CPI-M and other parties in the last one year, the BJP for the first time in the history of Tripura raised a 'Battle Cry' to turn Tripura as the 20th BJP and alliance party ruled state in India," Ram Madhav said.
"Tripura's future would be bright if the BJP comes to power in the state. BJP is the future of India. BJP and its allies are now ruling 19 states in India where country's 80 per cent people live," he added.
Besides the 71-year-old Congress MLA, several party leaders including Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) councillor Himani Debbarma and two CPI-M local leaders -- Lal Mohan Sarkar and Shantanu Singha -- on Friday also joined the BJP, as claimed by the party.
After the recognition of the six legislators as BJP members, the Tripura Assembly got its first BJP members since the northeastern state got a legislative body -- a 32-member Territorial Council 60 years ago in 1957.
The CPI-M-led Left Front has 51 members and the Congress now only two members in the 60-member house.
Ratan Lal Nath along with six MLAs voted for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election on July 17.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress in a letter to the assembly speaker requested him to "cancel the membership of Ratan Lal Nath" at once.
Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice President Pijush Kanti Biwas told the media that Nath and Himani Debbarma have no morality in their politics and they should resign from the state assembly and AMC before joining the BJP.