A day after 12 Trinamool Congress councillors and an MLA switched over to the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday claimed she does not want to keep "thieves" in her party, and asked those who are planning to leave to do so immediately so that fresh faces can take their places.
"Those who want to stay in Trinamool Congress should know that it is not a weak party. If 15-20 councillors leave by taking money, I do not care. It will not impact our party. We will take new people but will not keep the thieves within the party," Banerjee said at a party councillors' meeting at the Nazrul Mancha auditorium here.
The Trinamool Congress supremo urged the party leaders not plead with any defectors to return before the elections.
"Do not plead anybody to come back to the party. Just stop it. It is not required. Some MLAs have not worked in the last three-four years and are now planning to shift to another party in the greed of money and petrol pumps. I have all the news. Those who want to leave, leave quickly. Let us start our work. We have prepared new workers everywhere," she said.
Banerjee's remarks came against the backdrop of three MLAs and a majority of councillors from five municipalities in the state defecting to the BJP, since the declaration of general election results last month.
Accusing some municipal bodies of misusing the government property and extorting from people, she said none of those leaders will be able to escape the legal action by switching parties.
"There is a new trend. Those who are corrupt are running away from the party as soon as we start the audit. They are thinking that they will be saved by registering themselves under a different party. But they are wrong. If they misuse the government's money, they will have to pay the consequences," Banerjee said.
"Some of them have converted all the government properties in the name of themselves and their family. They have converted the government lands, parks water bodies in their name. Do not spare them," she asserted.
The Chief Minister also warned her party men not to take cut-money from people for implementing government welfare schemes and said strict actions will be initiated against the offenders.
Taking a dig at Trinamool-turned-BJP leader Mukul Roy and his son Subhrangshu Roy, who has also defected to the BJP recently, Banerjee said the party has made "a big mistake" by giving election tickets to the relatives of fellow party leaders and vowed not to repeat those mistakes again.
"We have given election tickets to people on request of their relatives who worked for our party. We gave ticket to someone because his father used to work for the party. I think it was a big mistake. We need to fix this. Let's promote those who want to dedicatedly serve the party," she added.
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