2019 has not begun on a good note for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Just 9 days into the year, Soumitra Khan, one of the prominent Trinamool Congress leader deserted the party only to join Banerjee’s arch rivals – the BJP. Khan joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Mukul Roy, the former confidant of the West Bengal Chief Minister, who joined BJP in 2017. Media reports from Kolkata suggest that there were speculations about Bishnupur lawmaker’s impending decision. Before formally joining the BJP, Khan had met party chief Amit Shah on Wednesday. At the event, Roy claimed that as many as five leaders from Trinamool Congress are likely to join the BJP.
Khan has been very vocal about his differences with the Mamata Banerjee government. Recently, Khan took to Facebook and said that a cop was trying to murder him. He also claimed that the state government will try to frame him in false cases. He had also expressed desire to work with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Khan’s decision will not augur well for Mamata Banerjee’s poll strategy. His decision comes at a time when there are reports that more than 2,000 TMC workers have joined the Congress.
In 2017, Mukul Roy, who was long the second most powerful leader of the Trinamool Congress, joined the BJP on November 3, 2017. Roy had claimed that that people of West Bengal wanted an alternative to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and will vote the saffron party to power in the next polls. The former railway minister, known for his organisational skills, joined the BJP in the presence of its chief Amit Shah.
Roy had recalled how the TMC forged an alliance with the BJP soon after Banerjee founded it and became a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He said the regional party could not have grown without the BJPs support. Rejecting Banerjees charge against the BJP, he had said, "It is not a communal party. It is a secular party. People in Bengal are not happy and are looking for an alternative. The BJP will soon clinch power in the state."