A Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader who was allotted a party ticket to contest a seat in Malda district is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 14 others, in what could be the first instance of jumping ship despite making it to the candidate list in West Bengal this election season.
Salara Murmu, who was to contest from Habibpur on a TMC ticket, was apparently upset that she did not get the seat (Old Malda) she wanted. In case of a desertion, Murmu would join a long list of TMC leaders, including the high-profile Suvendu Adhikari, leaving the party.
“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,” a local TMC leader said, requesting anonymity.
After the party announced its candidate list last week, several TMC leaders such as Sonali Guha (MLA from Satgachia), Arabul Islam (MLA from Bhangar), Smita Bakshi (MLA from Jorasankho in North Kolkata) and Rafiqur Rahaman (MLA of Amdanga) voiced disappointment as they were denied tickets.
But it’s different in Murmu’s case. Sources said Murmu and the others took a train from Malda on Sunday night and reached Kolkata on Monday morning to join the BJP. All of them are believed to be close to Adhikari, who has joined the BJP and is believed to have initiated the move to bring the rebels in Malda on board.
The TMC replaced Murmu with Pradeep Bakshey as a candidate for the Habibpur seat. “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.
The BJP is aggressively trying to gain ground in Malda as it sees an opening for itself. The TMC had drawn a blank in the district in 2016 out of the 12 seats. The TMC had also lost both Lok Sabha seats of the district in 2019.