What led 12 Meghalaya MLAs to move to TMC?

What led Mukul Sangma, 11 other Congress Meghalaya MLAs to move to TMC?

TMC's active 'poaching' of Congress members could widen the rift between the two parties - denting possibilities of a grand, united Opposition against the BJP

Twelve of the 17 Congress MLAs in the Meghalaya Assembly on Thursday joined the Trinamool Congress, dealing a major blow to the grand old party in the northeastern state.

Former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that the decision was taken after "exhaustive due diligence and analysis about how best to serve the people."

With the latest political development, despite not winning any seat in 2018 Assembly elections to the 60-member Assembly, the Trinamool Congress became the main opposition party in the House.

Read | Congress Meghalaya in-charge to visit Shillong today

Trinamool's active 'poaching' of Congress members could widen the rift between the two parties - denting possibilities of a grand, united Opposition against the reigning BJP.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, meanwhile, alleged that the recent defections from the Congress to the TMC were the brainchild of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and former Goa CM Luizinho Faleiro.

"This all is being done by Prashant Kishor and TMC's leader Luizinho Faleiro. We were aware of this," Chowdhury said.

Mukul Sangma reportedly met Trinamool's National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata last month triggering speculation amid a reported rift within the Congress in the northeastern state. Sangma had then termed it as a courtesy meeting.

The former Meghalaya Chief Minister is said to be upset over the appointment of Shillong Lok Sabha Member Vincent H. Pala as the state Congress President in September. The appointment was reportedly carried out without his consent.

In September, Sangma was not seen when Pala was being felicitated.

Also Read | INC failed to respond to call: Mukul Sangma explains why MLAs left Congress to join TMC

Sangma, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, was also unhappy with the Congress's top leadership. He had met the party top brass in October, which reports claim were a bid to placate him.

However, in a briefing on Thursday, Sangma said that the Congress had failed to respond to the call for the urgent need for an strong Opposition.

"We have raised the issue of an effective Opposition with the leadership in Delhi. We have made many trips to Delhi, but nothing happened... While looking for options for an opposition space, I ended up meeting my good friend Prashant Kishor, who we know, who can make a difference... we shared the same objective - interest of the people supersede everything," Sangma told media reporters.

Elections will be due in Meghalaya in 2023.

In 2012, the Meghalaya Pradesh Trinamool Congress was formally launched with an intention to contest 35 of the state's 60 seats.

Read | Unfair to blame Rahul Gandhi for defection in Meghalaya: BJP

At present, the party is making aggressive forays to establish its footprint in the northeast region to counter the BJP. Mamata had even met Sonia on a few occasions during her visits to Delhi, however, on Wednesday, she responded with a "Why? Is it mandatory each time?" when asked if she would see the Congress President during her Delhi visit to meet Prime Minister Modi.

The anti-defection law permits merger of two third members of a legislature group with another party, hence the 12 Congress lawmakers jumping ship will not attract disqualification.

In the 2018 polls, Congress was the single largest party with 21 seats. The National People’s Party (NPP), led by Conrad Sangma, had bagged 19 out of 60 seats seats and the BJP won two. But the NPP managed to cobble together a ruling alliance as part of the BJP-backed North East Democratic Alliance.

(Compiled with agency inputs).

Check out the latest DH videos here:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox