(Eds: Updating with TMC's reax, more quotes) Kolkata/New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) A day after quitting the Trinamool Congress, former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee joined the BJP in New Delhi on Saturday along with a few other disgruntled leaders of the state's ruling party in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Banerjee and MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya, who was expelled from the TMC a few days ago, former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty and actor Rudranil Ghosh flew to the national capital on a special plane from Kolkata, and met central BJP leaders.
They have joined the BJP, party general secretary and the party's Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya told PTI following the meeting.
Later, Shah tweeted, '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.' BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and Vijayvargiya arrived in Delhi with them.
'Kailash Ji and I are at the Hon'ble HM Shri Amit Shah Ji's residence with former TMC leaders,' Roy tweeted welcoming the new entrants into the saffron party.
The TMC, which has been facing dissent from a number of leaders ahead of the assembly election due in April-May, said that those who are leaving do not have a long political history and they will fail to create much impact.
Earlier on December 19, in the biggest single-day exodus from the TMC, political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, along with 35 party leaders, including five MLAs and an MP, had joined the BJP during Amit Shah's rally in Medinipur.
Rajib Banerjee earlier in the day said he had a word with Union Home Minister Amit Shah who called him to the national capital.
'After I resigned from the TMC, I received a call from the BJP leadership.... Amit Shah ji told me to come over to Delhi. He also requested me to pass on the information to five other important public figures who wanted to serve people in a better way to accompany me.
'If I get an assurance on the state's development, if I get an assurance that I can work for the betterment of people, I will join the BJP,' he told reporters at the Kolkata airport.
When asked what role does he expect to play in the BJP, Banerjee said it is for the party to decide.
'I want to work for the people. So whatever role is assigned to me, I will accept,' he said.
Instead of mudslinging at each other, the Centre and the West Bengal government should work together for the people of the state, the suave 47-year-old leader said.
Actor Rudranil Ghosh, who has recently been voicing his discontent over the issue of governance in Bengal and alleged corruption in the distribution of monetary compensation to Cyclone Amphan-affected people last year, said he wants to work for people and play an important role in the state in future.
Uttarpara MLA Prabir Ghosal recently alleged that repair of a road in his constituency was not being allowed by a faction of the party to harm his poll prospects.
According to BJP sources, these TMC leaders were supposed to join the saffron party during Union Home Minister Amit Shah's rally at Dumurjula in Howrah on Sunday. However, Shah's two-day visit to West Bengal was cancelled at the last minute.
The ruling TMC in West Bengal was rocked by a fresh bout of desertions on Friday with Banerjee quitting the party and several other leaders rallying behind him.
Reacting to the development, senior TMC MP and party spokesperson Sougata Ray said, 'Those who left don't have a long political history and most of them were inducted into the party by Mamata Banerjee. In future, the TMC will be careful.' Another senior TMC leader and minister Subrata Mukherjee said, 'What can we do if anyone wants to go? Ours is a big party. We cannot prevent dissenters by deploying military. But they will fail to create much impact.
TMC minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said that it has to be seen how these leaders fare in the polls if they decide to contest.
'We are none without Mamata Banerjee. We had been contesting elections in her name,' he said.
Veteran CPI(M) leader and West Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose claimed that there is little difference between the TMC and the BJP and both lack ethics. PTI PNT/KR/ SUS NN NN