BJP president of Alipurduar joins Trinamool Congress along with several top leaders of the district in north Bengal

Published : June 21, 2021 21:45 IST

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee: “I will not allow anyone to divide Bengal.” Photo: PTI

The exodus from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the Trinamool Congress, which began soon after the former’s humiliating defeat in the Assembly election, is beginning to snowball, with not only Trinamool turncoats making a beeline for their old party, but old-timers from the saffron party too changing camps. The latest blow to the BJP came on June 21, when Ganga Prasad Sharma, the party’s district president in Alipurduar, along with several top leaders of the district, joined the Trinamool. What has come as a jolt for the saffron party is that it had won all the five seats in Alipurduar in north Bengal in the Assembly election.

This was the first big defection from the BJP in north Bengal, which is considered to be its stronghold in the State. Addressing a media conference Sharma said, “This [the distancing with the BJP] started from before the election. The party leadership inducted people from outside, even took people to Delhi for joining, and did not even think the district leaders were worth informing. I had protested against this, but I did not quit the party before the election as I did not want to be labelled a traitor. I won all five seats for the party and then decided to join Trinamool.” Senior Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said that Sharma’s joining will bolster the Trinamool’s organisational strength in the district.

Demand for separate State or UT

The defection also came at a time when the BJP was left red-faced by a section of its leadership in north Bengal raising an informal proposal of carving a separate State or a Union Territory out of the region. Though the State leadership has distanced itself from the demand and has dismissed any such possibility, it has nevertheless caused quite a stir in the State. Coming down hard on the BJP, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “In whose interest are they trying to split Bengal? ...I will not allow anyone to divide Bengal.” One of the main proponents of the separate State/Union Territory idea is BJP’s heavyweight MP from Alipurduar, John Barla. Dismissing Barla’s demand as nothing more than a political ploy, Sharma said, “BJP has done well in north Bengal, but the MP concerned did nothing for the development of the region. What he is doing is fanning the sentiments of the people for political reasons.”