Three days after regaining control of Halisahar municipality, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) wrested back the Kanchrapara civic body on Saturday. Nine councillors joined the TMC in the presence of Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee, who is chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew.
Both Halisahar and Kanchrapara civic bodies are in the home turf of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Mukul Roy, who has been leading the party’s efforts to woo TMC leaders. In end-May, the TMC lost control of Kanchrapara and Halisahar, which makes up Bijpur Assembly constituency. Roy’s son Subhranshu is the Bijpur MLA.
“In the 24-ward Kanchrapara municipality, we had five councillors even after some switched to the BJP under threat and pressure from that party. A few days ago in the presence of (urban development minister) Bobby Hakim, five of them returned to our fold, making our strength 10. Today, nine councillors joined, pushing our numbers to 19,” said Abhishek Banerjee in a press conference on Saturday.
Taking a jibe at Roy, Banerjee remarked, “The BJP leader who could not retain councillors in its own backyard boasts that 107 legislators are keeping in touch with him.”
On Saturday, Roy said as many as 107 Bengal MLAs were in touch with him and they were from the TMC, Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M).
“TMC may intimidate a few councillors to return to their fold. But shortly, (TMC) legislators will start switching back. The ruling party will be in jeopardy,” said Bengal unit general secretary Sayantan Basu.
BJP Bengal unit vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “Instead of taking pride in the return of their councillors, Abhishek Banerjee should introspect why their councillors left their party in the first place.”
On July 10, eight councillors from Halisahar civic body rejoined TMC, taking the party’s tally to 13 in a board of 23.
In another development on Saturday, TMC leaders claimed to have re-established control on South Dinajpur zilla parishad (district council) when three members returned, raising the number of ruling party members in the 18-member council to 11.
“Three members returned today [Saturday]. Two more will come back to our fold soon,” said Arpita Ghosh, the TMC district president.
On June 24, 10 members of the South Dinajpur zilla parishad had switched to the BJP.
Since the Lok Sabha election results were declared on May 23, several councillors of seven municipalities – Bhatpara, Halisahar, Kanchrapara, Naihati, Garulia, Bongaon and Darjeeling – joined the BJP. Six TMC legislators and one from the CPI(M) also switched to that party.
The BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal in the April-May general elections, restricting the ruling TMC to 22. While the BJP tally went up from 2 in the 2014 election, that of the TMC fell from 34 that election.
Jul 14, 2019 01:46 IST