Congress leaders Kirti Azad and Ashok Tanwar and former JD(U) leader Pawan Verma join Trinamool Congress

Published : November 23, 2021 21:00 IST

Former MP Kirti Azad (left) and his family with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after joining the TMC, in New Delhi on November 23. Photo: SANDEEP SAXENA

In another blow to the Congress, two prominent leaders, Kirti Azad, former cricketer and MP, and Ashok Tanwar, former MP, joined the Trinamool Congress on November 23 in New Delhi in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee. The same day Pawan Verma, former heavyweight of the Janata Dal (United), also joined the Trinamool.

Addressing the media, Kirti Azad said, “I feel happy to announce that until the day I retire from politics, I will continue to serve the country under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership. Today the country needs a personality who will give it a new and proper direction, and every time we have seen Didi has fought for the people from the ground…. I am a sportsperson. I have neither any caste nor any religion. When I played, I played for my team; and when I am doing politics for my country, under the leadership of Didi, I will thwart the attempts of those trying to divide the country.” Azad was a Lok Sabha MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had joined the Congress in 2019. He was also a member of the Indian squad that won the World Cup in 1983.

Ashok Tanwar was once known to be a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. Tanwar, a former president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress, posted on social media, “Glad to be part of @AITCofficial. Indian politics is at a rare crossroads today — on one hand we're witnessing triumph of optics, on other, tragedies of the marginalised and poor continue. The real issues are getting buried — we need a new politics to turn the tide!”

The Congress has been losing a number of its key leaders to the Trinamool in the past few months. In September, Luizinho Faleiro, former Chief Minister of Goa and veteran Congress leader, joined the Trinamool, and prior to that Sushmita Dev, former Congress MP and president of the All India Mahila Congress, joined the party. Lashing out at the Trinamool, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, said, “After looting Bengal, Trinamool has arrived in Delhi with bags full of money to indulge in political horse-trading. They are trying to entice Congress leaders with Rajya Sabha nominations and other plum posts like they have done with Faleiro and Sushmita Dev.” He also alleged that the Trinamool was trying to weaken the Congress to appease the BJP. “Soon after Mamata Banerjee’s nephew was questioned by Central investigating agencies, there has been an effort to weaken the Congress, which will ultimately benefit the BJP,” said Chowdhury.

After joining the Trinamool, Pawan Verma emphasised the need for a strong opposition to defeat the BJP. “After quitting JD(U) and considering the present prevailing political situation in the country where there is a need for a strong opposition, I feel that Mamata Banerjee has the right kind of leadership qualities with whom I can associate,” he said. Verma believes that in 2024, Mamata Banerjee will win the elections and be in Delhi.