In a major jolt to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) ahead of the Assembly elections, senior party leader and former Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee joined the BJP on Saturday.
Following a meeting with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi Banerjee along with TMC MLA from Uttarpara Prabir Ghosal, expelled TMC MLA from Bally Baishali Dalmiya, former Mayor of Howrah Rathin Chakraborty, former TMC MLA Partha Chattopadhyay also joined the BJP.
This was the second major exodus from the TMC to BJP after former Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari joined the saffron party with five TMC MLAs, one MP and several other leaders.
“I am honored and grateful to the Union Home Minister and Kailash Vijayvergiya. It was a very positive discussion today. I have repeatedly said that the Centre-State quarrel has harmed the interest of the people of Bengal, hampered the development of the State...From today we are BJP members,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee said that he told the Union Home Minister that law and order situation and standard of living of the people had to be improved. He also said that he urged Shah to provide a special package for Bengal.
“I have told him (Shah) that the law and order situation in Bengal has to be improved and the standard of living has to be improved...I have told him people are frustrated, youths are not getting jobs. Industries have to be brought in Bengal for them and the special package has to be provided to Bengal,” said Banerjee.
He said that Shah assured him that he would address the issues and told him that Bengal would be his “main focus” in future.
“He told me that he would be proud if BJP can come to power in Bengal and focus on improving law and order and development of Bengal. He also said that Bengal will be his main focus,” said Banerjee.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee told reporters at the Kolkata Airport that he had got a call from the Union Home Minister’s office and was told that Amit Shah wanted to speak to him after knowing that he quit the TMC. Banerjee also said that he was scheduled to meet Shah after his arrival in Kolkata but later he was informed that the Home Minister’s office and BJP co-observer in Bengal Kailash Vijayvergiya that Shah’s visit was canceled.
“Amit Shah contacted me today morning and said that Rajib Banerjee is very special to me. I am sending you a special flight. You come to Delhi and speak to me. BJP president J P Nadda will also be there. If you are after the meeting you can join BJP today” said Banerjee.
He said that there was no point in the “politics of mudslinging” as it never benefited the people.
"Former TMC leaders Mr Rajib Banerjee, Ms Baishali Dalmiya, Mr Prabir Ghoshal, Mr Rathin Chakraborti and Mr Rudranil Ghosh joined BJP today in New Delhi. I am sure their induction will further strengthen BJP’s fight for Sonar Bangla," stated Shah in a Facebook post.