Two days after being rocked by a resignation and an expulsion, West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday said any more fence-sitters were welcome to leave her party immediately to join the BJP ahead of the assembly elections.
Turning the desertions from her party into an anti-corruption plank, Banerjee said those who were quitting the Trinamool Congress were disgruntled and “corrupt” party leaders and they should hop on to the BJP train before it leaves the platform.
Addressing the mega rally at Pursurah in Hooghly district, and also described the sloganeering at the event held to honour Subhash Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary as an insult to Bengal, before turning her attention to the deserters.
“There are party leaders who are leaving TMC and joining ‘BJP washing machine’ to hide their ill-gotten money. They are leaving because they know I am not going to give them tickets to contest the upcoming Assembly Polls. Why should I give tickets to those who worked for nothing? This time, l will give tickets to only those party leaders who worked for the people honestly. I am happy to get rid of corrupt leaders from my party.”
Her comments came just days after forest Minister Rajib Banerjee resigned from the state government in West Bengal, and received an offer from the BJP to join the saffron party. The TMC on the same day had also expelled its party MLA Vaishali Dalmia after a meeting of the disciplinary committee to crush any further dissent. The decision to expel Dalmia came as for the last few months she has been publicly criticizing the party, ahead of the elections.
Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari and Minister of State for Sports Laxmi Ratan Shukla had earlier resigned their posts in the government and party.
Interestingly, Mamata decided to address the rally from Pursurah, which is known as BJP’s weak area. In 2016 assembly polls, TMC’s M Nuruzzaman had defeated Congress Pratim Singha Roy here, while BJP was nowhere in the fray.
She dedicated the public meet to the booth workers, and described them as the real asset of the party. “I would like to request all the booth workers present here to raise their hands. Today, I would like to dedicate this rally to my booth workers because they are the real asset of the party. I am grateful to my booth workers for standing beside me all these years”.
“Hooghly district is special for us because this is the district where we have famous churches, temples and ‘Furfura Sharif’. This is the place known for legendary persons like Prafulla Chandra Sen, she said.
There are 18 assembly seats in Hooghly. In 2016, Trinamool Congress had won 16 seats, while Left Front and Congress won one seat each from Pandua and Champdami.