BJP, TMC on introspective mode over defection strategy

BJP, TMC on introspective mode over defection strategy

ANALYSIS

Recently a section of senior state BJP leaders expressed their discontent over Mukul Roy’s claim that 107 MLAs from the TMC and the CPM will soon join BJP. PTI file photo

The politics of defection utilised by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP in West Bengal is now being reconsidered by both sides.

While the BJP is struggling to deal with the discontent of its old guard against defectors coming in from other parties, the TMC is keen on doing away with engineering defection in the Left Front and the Congress to stop further advance of the saffron party in Bengal.

The strategy of weakening rival parties by engineering defection was started in West Bengal by the TMC when they came to power in 2011. Since then, the TMC has roped in more than a dozen MLAs from the Congress and the Left Front.

But now with the rise of the BJP in the state, the ruling party in Bengal is getting a taste of its own medicine. So far, five sitting TMC MLAs, two CPM MLAs and one Congress MLA have joined the BJP.

BJP rethinking strategy

The state BJP leadership has its own reasons to consider scaling down the induction of other leaders, especially from the TMC. The induction of TMC leaders has not gone down well with the old guard of the BJP in West Bengal who think that the newcomers will malign the party’s image as many of them have questionable reputations. The Bengal RSS has also expressed concerns over TMC leaders joining BJP in large numbers.

The internal discontent over the issue in the BJP came to the fore when the state BJP leadership set up a selection committee to screen new inductees into the party, under the instruction of party president Amit Shah.

Recently a section of senior state BJP leaders expressed their discontent over Mukul Roy’s claim that 107 MLAs from the TMC and the CPM will soon join BJP. Sources say that these leaders think Mukul Roy will push for the candidature of the MLAs who will join the BJP through him, in the next Assembly elections.

“Shah has already divided the responsibility among state leaders to prepare candidate list for the next Assembly election in each district. Roy’s strategy will throw a spanner into the process,” a state BJP leader said. He added that state president Dilip Ghosh is against unchecked induction of leaders from other parties into BJP.

The return of 25 TMC councillors and three Zilla Parishad members who joined BJP to their former party has also forced the state BJP leadership to rethink the defection strategy.

TMC in introspective mode

Meanwhile, the TMC is considering doing away with engineering defection in the non-BJP opposition parties, which Mukul Roy had done while he was in the TMC and continuing to do it in the BJP.

The TMC's change of heart reportedly happened recently following the advice from poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

“Kishor told us that BJP has benefited from the unification of anti-TMC votes as the other opposition parties in the state were weak,” a senior TMC leader said.

The TMC is now seeking to counter the BJP by collaborating with the Left Front and the Congress.