Rajib Banerjee, other TMC leaders may join BJP in Delhi today

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(Eds: Adds more quotes, reax of TMC) Kolkata, Jan 30 (PTI) Former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee, who recently quit the Trinamool Congress, on Saturday flew with four other disgruntled leaders and a Bengali actor to New Delhi where they are expected to join the BJP, sources in the saffron party said.

Banerjee and MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya, who was recently expelled from the TMC, and former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty, flew to the national capital on a special plane, and meet central BJP leaders.

Former TMC MLA Parthasarathi Chattopadhyay and actor Rudranil Ghosh also accompanied them.

BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy and national general secretary and the party's Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya went to Delhi with them.

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 long political history.

Banerjee 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 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.

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, who recently alleged that repair work of a road in his constituency was not being allowed by a faction of the party to harm his poll prospects, told reporters that he will join the BJP.

They all are expected to be inducted into the saffron party on Saturday in Delhi or at a programme in Howrah district of the state on Sunday.

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 following a blast outside the Israeli Embassy in the national capital.

Union minister Smriti Irani will now deputise for Shah at the programme.

The ruling TMC in West Bengal was rocked by a fresh bout of desertions on Friday with Rajib 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 (Chief Minister and party supremo) 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.' PTI PNT SUS NN NN