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Another Trinamool MLA joins BJP, Mamata's party says not concerned


IANS New Delhi/Kolkata
West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Wednesday suffered another jolt as one of its prominent Muslim faces, MLA Monirul Islam, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Islam, elected from Labpur constituency, and several office bearers of the Trinamool Congress in Birbhum district joined the saffron camp at the BJP headquarters in Delhi in the presence of its General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior leader Mukul Roy.
They include Gadadhar Hazra, a former Trinamool MLA, Asif Iqbal and Nimai Das. Iqbal and Das are district office bearers of the party.
A state minister, however, played down the defection, saying it was "not a matter of concern".
After their formal induction, Vijayvargiya accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of practising politics of "terror" in the state and claimed she had lost the faith of the people as well party cadres.
"People of West Bengal now have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and they feel he can do all-round development of the state," he said.
Alleging that Trinamool's Birbhum district chief Anubrata Mondal earned Rs 20 crore a month by extortion, Islam said his defection to the BJP was a protest against Mondal's illegal activities.
People rejected Mondal in the Lok Sabha polls as Trinamool lost in five Assembly segments in the district, he said, even though West Bengal's ruling party won both Lok Sabha seats in Birbhum.
Islam, a controversial leader, had in 2015 publicly threatened to behead a Congress functionary from Birbhum and went on to claim how he had "squashed" three people under his feet for committing atrocities against women.
On Tuesday, three MLAs -- two of the Trinamool and one from the CPI-M -- besides over 60 Trinamool councillors, joined the BJP in the wake of the Trinamool's poor showing in the Lok Sabha election.
The Trinamool, however, claimed it would prove its mass support in next year's civic polls and the Assembly polls scheduled in 2021.
"Some leaders, who are either associated with general or economic offences or are apprehensive of any action from the Centre, are joining the BJP. It is not a concern for the party. We are not worried about how they will poach our leaders. We will prove that people of Bengal are with Trinamool in 2020 civil polls and 2021 Assembly elections," said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Tapas Roy.
But state BJP chief and Medinipur MP Dilip Ghosh said no one has been forced to join the BJP.
"Many Trinamool leaders did not want to be associated with their party. They do not accept the dictatorial rule of (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee. In a bid to restrain them from joining the BJP, many Trinamool party leaders were threatened that police cases would be slapped against them," he said.
Ghosh also alleged that a large number of Trinamool leaders have been "fed up with the functioning of their party and orders coming from the dictator".

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First Published: May 29 2019 | 8:00 PM IST

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