KOLKATA: Plagued by defections and infighting, the beleaguered Congress and CPI(M) are finding it difficult to keep their flock together after the Trinamool Congress retained power in West Bengal.
In the last few months since the Assembly poll results were out delivering a thumping majority to the Trinamool Congress, the party managed to take over various opposition-controlled municipalities and panchayats in the state, with Councillors and Panchayat members shifting to the TMC fold from either Congress or Left Front constituents.
Even two MLAs, one each from Congress and Left Front, have switched over to the TMC last month, bringing down the opposition tally in the state Assembly from 76 to 74 in the 294-member House.
The TMC, which presently has 211 MLAs, however claimed it did not invite anybody to join their fold but those who are willing to be part of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's development process are coming over on their own.
A livid opposition, however, alleged that TMC was using money and muscle power to poach into opposition turf and take away it's legislators.
The helplessness to keep the opposition numbers intact in Assembly and municipality was more glaring in the comment of a senior state Congress leader who said, "What can we do if someone wants to switch over to some other party? Who shall we complain against? There is nobody who is going to listen to us. The TMC is poaching on our MLAs and other leaders by not flouting the nitty gritty of anti-defection law,".
Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan asserted the party along with the CPI(M) will fight this trend politically.
"There is nothing that can be done excepting countering this trend politically. In those municipalities either two-third of the opposition have joined TMC or in case of poaching of MLAs, the legislators having switched over are still officially known as Congress or Left MLAs as they have not resigned from their post," Mannan told PTI.
"We feel if someone wants to join some other party then they should have the guts to resign and contest polls on TMC ticket," Mannan said.
According to TMC sources, the party is eyeing the Murshidabad district, stronghold of state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury
Of the seven municipalities in the district which were controlled by either Congress and CPI(M) after the 2015 municipal polls, TMC has taken over four municipalities with councillors of Left Front and Congress switching over to TMC in the last one year.
Senior TMC leader and state Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari, who is in charge of the party organisation in Murshidabad district told PTI, "There will be no sign of Congress politically in Murshidabad and Malda districts in days to come. We will also take over the Murshidabad Zilla Parishad and rest of the municipalities by the end of this year."
Asked whether it was in sync with the principle of parties in Bengal, which has rarely witnessed such instances of public representatives switching to ruling dispensation in past, Adhikari countered, "It is not a question of moral values.
"If someone wants to come and join the development process how can you stop them? We are not forcing anyone to join TMC.Everybody is doing it on his/her own,".
The trend of switching over to the ruling side had started in Bengal after TMC's coming to power in 2011.
Nine Congress MLAs and three Left MLAs had switched over to TMC by the end of its five year term in 2016.
Commenting on the defections, state Congress President Adhir Chowdhury told PTI, "Those who are switching over to TMC should have the moral values to contest on a TMC ticket and win from the same assembly segment".
The situation is no better in CPI(M)-led Left Front.
Recently a Left-controlled municipality in Purulia and a Panchayat in Kultali was taken over by TMC, with a Left member switching over to TMC.
The CPI(M) has so far failed to take any action in stemming the exodus and only accused TMC of trying to subvert democratic norms.
"The TMC is disrespecting the people's mandate by using money and muscle power. They are trying to subvert democracy in the state," CPI(M) state Secretary Surya Kanta Mishra had said.
CPI(M) Politburo member and Left Front Chairman Biman Bose had accused the TMC of trying to establish a one party rule in the state.
Not attaching much importance to the protests by CPI(M) and Congress TMC Vice-President Mukul Roy recently said, "Many MLAs of the Congress and the Left are in touch with us and are willing to join our party".