Somen Mitra, who resigned as a Trinamool Congress MP last week, formally joined the Congress party on Tuesday along with his loyalists in the presence of the party’s central leadership.

West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya handed over the party flag to the veteran politician at a large gathering of enthusiastic workers before its state headquarters Indira Bhavan in Kolkata.

Congress all India general secretaries Ambika Soni and C.P. Joshi were present to welcome the 70-year-old Mitra, a former state party chief. Two union ministers from the state, Deepa Dasmunshi and Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, also attended the event.

Beleaguered by a constant stream of desertions of elected people’s representatives, organisational leaders and active workers to the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Congress at last found something to cheer.

The festive atmosphere at the venue, with workers coming in hordes from different parts of the state with bugles and drums, was an indicator of the relief and jubilation in the Congress camp.

Mr. Mitra resigned from his Lok Sabha seat on January 15, accusing the Trinamool leadership of failing to keep its pre-poll promises after coming to power in the state.

An onetime archenemy of Mamata Banerjee when both were in the Congress, Mr. Mitra is regarded as the prime reason for Ms. Banerjee’s decision to leave the Congress and float another party in 1997.

Later, the arch-rivals turned friends when Mr. Mitra joined the Trinamool in 2008 and a year later got elected as an MP on a party ticket from Diamond Harbour in the South 24 Parganas district.