NEW DELHI: The BJP continued poaching Trinamool legislators, with Monirul Islam, MLA from Labpur Assembly constituency in West Bengal, being the latest to jump ship on Wednesday.
Islam, along with former MLA Gadadhar Hazra, Trinamool youth wing chief Asif Iqbal and Nimai Das, was inducted into the saffron party in New Delhi in the presence of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and its state pointsman Mukul Roy.
On Tuesday, two Trinamool and a CPM MLA had joined the BJP. Party leaders have claimed that a number of leaders from Mamata Banerjee’s party are in touch with them to defect in the coming days.
Having gained over 40 per cent vote share and bagged 18 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the just concluded elections, the BJP has put in motion its plan to wrest power in the state, which is slated to go to Assembly elections in 2021.
The defections have rattled the Trinamool, though the party on Tuesday dismissed them as minor setbacks. Trinamool chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, who has declined the invite to attend PM Narendra Modi’s swearing-in, rescheduled her Thursday programme and will now join the sit-in demonstration of party cadres in front of Naihati and Bhatpara municipalities, the two civic bodies where the BJP secured a majority after most of the councilors joined the saffron party on Tuesday.
Trinamool Congress MLA Manirul Islam joins Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi. TMC's Gadadhar Hazra, Mohd Asif Iqbal and Nimai Das also join BJP. pic.twitter.com/Y2rOILuZ2f— ANI (@ANI) May 29, 2019
Keeping aside the bitterness of the poll campaign, Banerjee had said on Tuesday that she would attend the ceremony as “constitutional courtesy”.
However, on Wednesday she tweeted: “Congratulations, new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi Ji. It was my plan to accept the ‘Constitutional invitation’ and attend the oath-taking ceremony. However...I am seeing media reports that the BJP is claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders...Sorry, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony.”
BJP leaders in Kolkata said Mamata was kipping the event due to the party’s decision to invite families of workers killed in the violence.
“Bengal was the only state where violence was reported during polls and Mamata is trying to hide this,” said Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president.