The way things are panning out in West Bengal, it is arguably one of the most significant and interesting state election to take place since the advent of the Modi government. As the BJP goes all out to come to power in a state where it had little or no presence in 2016, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress has been rocked by a spate of defections as the party leaders have read the writing on the wall. Such is the state of the TMC, that Sarala Murmu – one of its candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections, has switched over to the BJP, thereby causing major embarrassment to Mamata and the party.
Sarala Murmu, the TMC candidate from Habibpur, has joined the BJP along with 14 others. To the best of my memory, this is the first instance in the recent past that despite making it to the final candidate list, a party leader has decided to jump ship.
It is being reported that Murmu was upset with the TMC for not giving her a ticket from the seat of Old Malda which she wanted and instead had to settle for Habibpur.
News18 quoted an anonymous TMC leader as saying, “This is primarily the reason why she has decided to quit the TMC and is planning to join the BJP. Apart from Murmu, 14 others, including Gour Chandra Mondal (Malda Zila Parishad president) and Amlan Bhaduri (TMC co-ordinator), are also planning to join the BJP.”
On Sunday night, Murmu boarded a train from Malda to Kolkata in order to join the BJP on Monday. Murmu and the 14 leaders w are believed to be close to Suvendhu Adhikari.
Pradeep Bakshey has been now announced as the TMC candidate from the seat of Habibpur. “All India Trinamool Congress would like to inform that the candidate for Malda district’s Habibpur Assembly Constituency has to be replaced due to her ill health,” a party statement said.
Malda was a weak spot for the TMC as even in the 2016 election where the party swept the state, it failed to bag a single seat in the district out of the 12 seats on offer. The trend continues in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the TMC lost both Lok Sabha seats of the district.
The 38-member Malda Zilla Parishad saw a sea change as the BJP wrested control of the Zilla Parishad after 23 members changed sides. Before the defections, TMC had 27 while BJP had six seats in Malda Zilla Parishad. The exit of Sarala Murmu, thus brings another embarrassment for Mamata Banerjee and her party, turning the odds in the favour of the BJP.