Bengal polls: Mamata schedules emergency meeting on January 29 as Shah set to begin state visit

Express News Service
KOLKATA: Poll-bound West Bengal is likely to witness another phase of the exodus from the ruling Trinamool Congress to BJP during Union Home minister Amit Shah’s two-day visit starting from Saturday. 

At least two MPs, four MLAs, including a former TMC minister, along with 20 other party functionaries are said to be all set to join the BJP.

Former minister for forest affairs Rajib Banerjee, who stepped down from Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet on January 22 and resigned from the post of MLA and gave up party membership on Friday, has triggered speculations of his defection to the saffron camp.

During Shah’s Bengal visit last month, six TMC MLAs and a sitting MP joined the BJP along with 45 other district level functionaries.

“The second round of defection from the TMC will take place during Shah’s rally at Dumurjala stadium in Howrah district on January 31, a day after the Union Home minister’s rally at Bongaon, North 24-Parganas. The upcoming event will be another blow to the TMC ahead of the crucial 2021 Assembly elections,” said a BJP leader.

Sources in the BJP said other than Banerjee, Baishali Dalmiya, Bally TMC MLA and the daughter of former cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was expelled from the party last week for supporting the former minister, former sports minister Lakshmi Ratan Shukla and Uttarpara MLA Prabir Ghosal are queuing up to join the saffron camp on Sunday.

The Bengal BJP, however, decided to cancel Shah’s roadshow at Uluberia, Howrah, on Sunday as two events were scheduled in the same district. “The Union Home Minister was scheduled to be in the roadshow after addressing a rally at the Dumurjala stadium. Since both the events are in the same district, the participation of our supporters in the roadshow will not be like the previous occasions. The presence of inadequate supporters will send a message to our rival camps,” said another BJP leader.

Shah and BJP’s national president JP Nadda had recently held roadshows in Bolpur and Burdwan respectively where a large number of BJP supporters turned up.