Zila parishad in Bengal goes to BJP; Trinamool jolted, jilted

New Delhi/Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MLA Wilson Champramary and several other party members, including president of a local body from Dakshin Dinajpur, joined the BJP on Monday as the saffron party continued to poach on the leaders of the West Bengal’s ruling party.

The TMC leaders joined the BJP at the latter’s headquarters in the presence of its senior leaders, including Mukul Roy, it’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh and its national general secretary Kailash Vijarvargiya, who is in charge of its State affairs.

Roy described the TMC leaders joining the BJP as an “earthquake”, saying almost all members, including its chairperson Lipika Roy, of a local body joined the party.

Several TMC MLAs have joined the BJP after the saffron emerged as a strong challenger to the state’s ruling party by winning 18 Lok Sabha seats of the total 42 there.

The development on Monday is one of the rudest shocks the Trinamool has received even in this season of rampant desertions from the party. It has wrecked the Trinamool legislative party, snatched a whole zila parishad away from it as also an Assembly seat from north Bengal.

Trinamool general secretary Partha Chatterjee, however, brazened it out by claiming these defections will see no impact in the State.

Wilson Champramary has been the MLA of Kalchini for 10 years. In 2009, he won from Kalchini as an independent candidate enjoying the support of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. In 2011, he repeated the feat. In 2016, he won as a Trinamool candidate.

The three-time legislator left the Trinamool for the BJP, joining the saffron party at the national headquarters in New Delhi. As a result, the BJP now occupies two of the five Assembly constituencies of Alipurduar district.

For the Trinamool, the jolt of the southern Dinajpur district is worse. The party lost control over the board of the zila parishad. A total of 10 members of the parishad, including its president, Lipika Roy, joined the BJP in New Delhi this day. As a result, the BJP now enjoys a majority in the 18-member zila parishad. A new board need not be formed as the parishad president herself has joined the BJP.

In south Dinajpur, the Trinamool’s woes don’t end in the zila parishad. Former president of district Trinamool, one of the most influential leaders of the southern Dinajpur district, Biplab Mitra joined the BJP on Monday. Mamata Banerjee had removed Mitra from this post due to the Trinamool’s loss in Balurghat Lok Sabha constituency. She had appointed in his place Arpita Ghosh, who had lost Balurghat. Since then, there was speculation that Mitra would leave the party.

In the presence of Kailash Vijayvargiya, Dilip Ghosh and Mukul Roy, these former leaders and people’s representatives of the Trinamool joined the BJP. Dilip Ghose and Mukul Roy touted the acquisition of the South Dinajpur District zila parishad as their biggest success of the day. This is the first time the BJP has taken over a zila parishad in West Bengal.

The Trinamool, however, denies it has lost the zila parishad. A defiant Arpita Ghosh said the BJP wouldn’t be able to parade the 10 members despite their featuring widely in the photographs taken at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi today. When this was pointed out to her, she said, “Some of them might not have gone to Delhi voluntarily. They were intimidated.”

“They will join the Trinamool again once they return. I have been talking to them over the phone,” Arpita Ghosh said.

Partha Chatterjee reacted to the day’s development, saying, “Mukul Roy used to wreck the Trinamool from within when he was with us. He would erect a pandal, make the workers of other parties hold the party flag to meet his own selfish ends. He is now doing the same in the BJP. This will not bring the BJP rule to Bengal. They will soon realise that.”