West Bengal

Defections from Trinamool mar poll landscape

TMC leaders Sonali Guha (4th from right) and Sarala Murmu (2nd from right) joining BJP in Kolkata on Monday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The defection of 88-year-old four-time Trinamool Congress MLA from Singur Rabindranath Bhattacharya to the BJP could not have come at a worse time. Mr. Bhattacharya known as “master moshai (teacher)” is not only respected for his integrity, but he was also the face of the protests against forcible land acquisition at Singur for the Tata Nano small car project.

Singur was synonymous with the TMC’s fight against land acquisition and was crucial to Mamata Banerjee’s ascent to power in 2011.

Mr. Bhattacharya said the TMC had “abandoned” him and he refused to buy the argument that he was denied ticket because of his age. He was also upset that his political rival in the party, Becharam Manna, got a ticket from Singur and his wife Karabi Manna from nearby Haripal constituency.

Among the five MLAs who defected to the BJP was Sonali Guha, a close associate of Ms. Banerjee and four time MLA fom Satgachia Assembly seat.

The other defectors include former footballer Dibyendu Biswas (Basirhat Dakshin), Jatu Lahiri (Shibpur) and Sital Sardar (Sankrail). These MLAs were denied tickets and they joined the BJP after the TMC list was announced.

For the BJP, defection has become a political tool, and any TMC leader joining the party is welcome. But the question is whether it will have any impact on the polls. Other than these five defections what stood out was the case of Sarala Murmu, who was given ticket from Habibpur in Malda but decided to switch to the BJP. An embarrassed TMC had to nominate a new candidate hours before Ms. Murmu joined BJP.

‘Not much clout’

As far as the five MLAs are concerned, a section of political observers feels that these leaders do not wield much political clout. “Most of these five MLAs are a spent force and do not matter much. However as far as the matter of perception goes, the BJP is trying to project that the TMC is disintegrating,” political commentator Biswanath Chakraborty said. Prof. Chakraborty, who teaches political science at Rabindra Bharati University, said the 14 zilla parishad members from Malda who joined the BJP can influence the polls.

The TMC has also put a lot of emphasis on selection of candidates for the election and the only criteria considered was winnability. In that process, scores of sitting MLAs were denied tickets. While the BJP leadership is describing the development as a “moral victory” for the party, the TMC has described these defections as “good riddance”.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 5:36:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/west-bengal-assembly/defections-from-tmc-mar-poll-landscape/article34031548.ece

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