KOLKATA: In the midst of assembly election fever in West Bengal, several members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joined the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday.
The ex-BJP members were Priyansu Pandey, Rabi Singh, Surojit Biswas and Akash Mallah, who joined the TMC in the presence of state minister Purnendu Basu and MP Dola Sen at Trinamool Bhavan today.
"Having observed the work Mamata Banerjee has done in the state, these members will hold the TMC flag today. We are happy to welcome them to our party. TMC is like an ocean. You can see that people from different areas have joined the TMC. There is no doubt that the TMC government will be formed again in the state," said Basu at the press conference.
Pandey was the state committee of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BYJM), while Singh was a member of the BJP District Committee in Barrackpore, according to an All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) bulletin.
Biswas was the vice-president of BJP Barrackpore organisation District Committee SC Morcha and Mallah was the secretary of Barrackpore organisation District Committee of Bharatiya Janata Majdoor Trade Union Council.
Speaking at the press conference, Pandey thanked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee for giving him the opportunity to join the party.
"I, Priyansu Pandey, was the first to start the movement under the Nabanna Abhiyaan of BYJM, but today I feel ashamed that the BJP is not the same party of Bengal. Today, the Bengal BJP has become a party of traitors from TMC. The people who betrayed TMC are running the BJP faction in Bengal," he said.
The ex-BJP member also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for going back on their promises to fight against dynastic politics and nepotism.
"The people, who engaged in extortion, misgovernance, were the most corrupt and were involved in the Narada, Saradha scams, have now joined the BJP," he added.
He further remarked that Mamata Banerjee had done the maximum work for the people of the state and that he and other former BJP leaders will rally alongside her on the lines of 'Bangla nijer meyeke chaaye' (Bengal wants her daughter).
The polls are witnessing a fierce contest between the ruling TMC, the BJP and the Sanjukta Morcha comprising Left parties, Congress and ISF.
Phase three in the eight-phased elections in West Bengal is set to commence on Tuesday, which will cover 31 Assembly constituencies in three districts: eight in Hooghly, seven in Howrah and 16 in South 24 Parganas.
There are 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling, with Diamond Harbour having the maximum number of candidates at 11.
Polling for the first two phases of the West Bengal elections were held on March 27 and April 1 respectively. The fourth phase of polling will take place on April 10. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.