GUWAHATI: In Left-ruled Tripura, the Congress suffered a major blow on Tuesday when six of its MLAs joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Worse still, another Congress MLA resigned and applied for CPI-M membership. The defections brought the Congress tally in the 60-member Assembly from 10 to three. The Left Front has 50 legislators.
Former Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee president Sudip Roy Barman was among those who defected to the TMC. The group gave a letter to Speaker Ramendra Debnath informing him of their decision. The six — Asish Saha, Pranjit Singha Roy, Dilip Sarkar, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, Bishwa Bandhu Sen, besides Barman — joined the TMC in the presence of party vice-president Mukul Roy. Jitendra Sarkar of Congress had on Monday applied for CPM membership and quit as MLA. But the letter to the Speaker bore his signature. Later, he said: “I was made to sign under pressure.”
Trouble has been brewing in the Congress since its poll alliance with the Left Front in Bengal. Barman protested the tie-up but as nothing happened, he quit as the Leader of the Opposition.
The developments come barely a week after Roy’s visit to Agartala. He was sent by TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as her emissary. Tripura is now the second Northeast state where TMC has a presence in Assembly. In Manipur, it has four MLAs. CPI-M’s Manik Sarkar has been CM since 1998. Congress has never won more than 13 seats in the last five elections.