The trend of defection which was started by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal within months after coming to power in the state in 2011 has now been boosted by the BJP. With the Assembly elections inching closer, the key question is whether such defections will have any impact on election results.
A Cabinet Minister, five MLAs and one MP have quit the Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP in about the last one and a half months. Former Forest Minister and senior TMC leader Rajib Banerjee, on Thursday, tendered his resignation as an MLA further fueling speculation that he also may join the BJP.
With the exception of former Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari, none of the turncoats have any significant mass base. Despite BJP’s growth in Bengal, these turncoats will have a tall task as they will have to face the formidable mass base and political stature of the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.
Mamata has decided to take the turncoats head-on. She had declared that she would contest from the Nandigram seat in the Assembly elections. The seat was held by Adhikari before he resigned as an MLA. It will be an acid test for Adhikari to face his former political mentor. Since Nandigram has a significant number of Muslim voters, it will be challenging for Adhikari to prevent them from consolidating in favour of Mamata.
“All these leaders who went to BJP are creations of Mamata Banerjee. They never imagined the posts which she gave them. They will be utilised and thrown away by the RSS-controlled BJP,” senior TMC leader and Minister Tapas Roy told DH.
The TMC turncoats will also have to deal with the old guard of the BJP who are furious for being sidelined in the party. BJP sources said that a section of state leaders were doubtful of the “loyalty” of these turncoats.
State BJP vice president Biswapriyo Roy Chowdhury said, “These TMC leaders are joining BJP as they have realised that TMC is a sinking ship. Their joining will strengthen our organisation.”
Political analyst and author Snighendu Bhattacharya said, “While some of the defectors may provide good results for BJP, there are some MLAs among the turncoats who do not have a good image in their constituency and may cause disrepute to BJP.”