(Incorporating fresh inputs, collating stories) Kolkata, Dec 18 (PTI) The ruling TMC was rocked by a fresh bout of desertions on Friday with at least ten of its leaders exiting it and deepening the crisis in the party hours before the arrival of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the state.
A new twist was added to the unfolding political drama when Speaker Biman Banerjee rejected the resignation of senior leader Suvendu Adhikari as a member of the House on technical grounds.
A day after four senior TMC leaders including two MLAs Suvendu Adhikari and Jitendra Tiwari quit the party, nine disgruntled leaders including Barrackpore MLA Silbhadra Dutta and Uttar Kanthi representative Banasree Maity sent their resignations to the TMC top brass.
Opposition CPI(M) too felt the tremors of desertion as one of its MLAs quit the party.
A jubilant state BJP vicepresident Arjun Singh claimed that around 10-12 MLAs, leaders from TMC and other parties will join the saffron party.
Later in the evening, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee told party leaders during an internal meeting at her residence not to be worried about the desertions by the traitors as 'people of the state are with the TMC', party sources said.
Barrackpore MLA Shilbhadra Dutta resigned from TMC on Friday, making it the fourth major exit from the party in the past 24 hours.
Dutta, a two-term MLA, said he had sent the resignation letter to Banerjee by email triggering speculations that he may join a long list of party leaders who have either joined BJP or is willing to do so ahead of the assembly elections likely in March-April 2021.
'I think that I am unfit in the party in the present scenario. But, I will not resign as an MLA,' he told reporters.
Over the last few months Dutta has been vocal about his opposition to poll strategist Prashant Kishor inducted by TMC before the state polls and the way he was handling the party affairs.
Dutta, once a Mukul Roy loyalist when the BJP leader was in TMC, has also spoken Out against a section of the party's leadership.
Nine other TMC leaders in various districts including Zilla Parishad leaders and members of its minority cell submitted their resignation to the party.
TMC received a jolt ahead of the crucial state poll with heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, who was the face of the Nandigram anti-farmland acquisition movement quitting the party on Thursday. He had given up his cabinet portfolios and resigned as MLA prior to it.
Rallying behind him, Pandabeswar MLA and Asansol civic body chief Jitendra Tiwari and former TMC minister Shyamaprasad Mukherjee also quit the party amid speculations that they are likely to switch over to BJP this week.
Meanwhile, Speaker Biman Banerjee said that he had not accepted the resignation tendered by Adhikari as it does not conform to the provisions of the Constitution and the rules of the House.
According to sources, Adhikari is likely to visit the House on Monday and tender a fresh resignation as MLA.
When contacted party spokesperson Saugata Roy termed the deserters as 'traitors and weathercocks'.
'It is good that such elements are leaving the party.
They will regret their decision as TMC will return to power with a bigger mandate,' Roy said.
Another senior TMC leader said on condition of anoynymity 'Mamatadi told the senior leaders that there is nothing to worry about the desertions as the people of the state will give a befitting reply to the traitors'.
An elated BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya termed the desertions in the ruling party in the state as the 'beginning of the end of the TMC'.
'The party's (TMC's) rank and file are not happy with the leadership so they are quitting the party,' he said.
Reacting to the development, Singh said Dutta along with several other TMC leaders will join the saffron tomorrow.
'Around 10-12 MLAs would join the BJP tomorrow (Saturday). It will be a mega show tomorrow,' he said.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) MLA from Haldia Tapasi Mondal said she is quitting from the primary membership of the party as she is not being allowed to work for the people.
Left Front legislature party leader Sujan Chakraborty said Mondal is 'cooking up excuses to join the saffron camp'.
There is intense speculation that Adhikari along with several other TMC leaders is likely to switch over to BJP during Shah's mega rally at Midnapore on Saturday.
Shah will arrive in Kolkata on Friday night on a two-day visit tothe state to take stock of BJP's affairs in the state as the assembly election draws near and the rebellion in the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The discontentment which is brewing in the TMC party may adversely impact TMC's prospects in the state election due in April-May next year. PTI DC AMR SUS PNT KK KK