With the induction into the State Council of Ministers on Wednesday of two former Congress MLAs who joined the Trinamool Congress only a day earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has brought to West Bengal politics the “culture of buying and selling MLAs”, said the State Congress leadership.

“It has never happened in the history of the State that people were made Ministers the very next day after joining a political party,” State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya told The Hindu .

He was referring to K.N. Choudhury, who was elected twice on Congress ticket from English Bazar in Malda district, and Humayun Kabir, who represented Rejinagar Assembly constituency in Murshidabad district and a Congress stronghold.

“The move is only to engineer defections from the Congress to Trinamool,” said Mr. Bhattacharya. Soon after being sworn-in, the two new Ministers challenged the leadership of their former party to defeat Trinamool in the Assembly by-elections from their respective constituencies, which have been necessitated by their resignations.

“I challenge the Congress to contest from Rejinagar Assembly segment. It will come third as the contest will be between the Trinamool and the Left parties,” Mr. Kabir said, adding that Murshidabad District Congress president and Union Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury cannot stop him from getting re-elected.

Mr. K.N. Choudhury also took a dig at Malda district Congress leadership and said that unlike the leaders he has not come to the district from Switzerland or any other foreign country — an oblique reference to leaders from the family of the late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury whose legacy in the district remains strong.

The elevation of the two leaders to Ministers is significant as the Trinamool is trying to make inroads in the two Congress strongholds in the State — Malda and Murshidabad district — before the upcoming rural polls.