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BJP Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh returns to Trinamool Congress

BJP MP from  Barrackpore Arjun Singh (centre) speaks to the media after joining the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata on May 22, 2022.

BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh (centre) speaks to the media after joining the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata on May 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

In a major setback to the West Bengal unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), party’s Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh on Sunday joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Mr. Singh joined the State’s ruling party in presence of TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and other senior leaders from North 24 Parganas at party’s Camac Street office in the city.

“I have returned home. I have been associated with the party (TMC) since its foundation in 1998,” Mr. Singh told journalists after joining the TMC.  The Barrackpore MP said that he wants to fight for the interest of all the stakeholders of Jute industry and only Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can lead the struggle.

Before the joining, the Barrackpore MP on Sunday held a meeting with Mr. Banerjee and other TMC leaders who had expressed unhappiness over Mr. Singh’s return to TMC.  As soon as the Barrackpore MP switched sides, the BJP flags and posters from his residence and several party offices near his residence were removed and flags of TMC were put in its place.  

Asked whether he will resign as an MP, Mr Singh said that there are two TMC MPs who have joined the BJP and have not resigned. “ The day they will resign as MP, I will also resign,” he added. Mr. Singh was referring to Sisir Adhikari ( MP from Kanthi) and Dibyendu Adhikari ( MP from Tamluk), both family members of leader of Opposition in State Assembly Suvendu Adhikari who have not resigned from Lok Sabha despite the family shifting allegience to the BJP.  

Arjun Singh had quit the Trinamool Congress in 2019 just before the Lok Sabha elections after he was denied a ticket to contest the polls. He successfully contested Lok Sabha from Barrackpore on the BJP ticket and defeated TMC candidate Dinesh Trivedi. Before crossing over to BJP, Arjun Singh was elected to West Bengal Assembly four times as TMC representative.

Mr Singh’s defection to BJP in 2019 had triggered a series of political violence in Barrackpore subdivision of North 24 Parganas that claimed dozens of lives. The violence on certain occasions had communal overtones. Mr Singh was appointed vice president of the State unit of the BJP and was one of the heavyweight leaders of the party with significant influence in Barrackpore.

Over the past few weeks, Mr Singh has been vocal against the policies of the Centre particularly pertaining to Jute industry. The 60- year- old politician has been also sending feelers to the TMC, and wrote a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking her intervention in the jute crisis.

 While the Office of Jute Commissioner has recently withdrawn its notification capping the pricing of raw jute, Mr. Singh continued to target the BJP government for not protecting the interest of farmers and workers associated with the Jute industry.  A few days ago Mr. Singh also had met BJP president J P Nadda in Delhi, but the meeting failed to break ice.

Prior to Arjun Singh, BJP MP Asansol Babul Supriyo had quit the BJP and joined Trinamool Congress in 2021. Mr Supriyo successfully contested the Ballygunge Assembly seat in April 2022. After BJP’s humiliating defeat in the 2021 Assembly poll, a number of party leaders have quit the party and joined TMC. The list includes half a dozen MLAs elected of BJP ticket who have switched sides and joined the State’s ruling party. Arjun Singh’s son Pawan Kumar Singh is BJP MLA from Bhatpara in State’s Barrackpore subdivision.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2022 8:40:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-barrackpore-mp-arjun-singh-returns-to-trinamool-congress/article65446947.ece