Two Lok Sabha MPs of the ruling TMC – Soumitra Khan from Bishnupur in Bankura district and Dr Anupam Hazra from Bolpur in Birbhum district – have been expelled from the party on a single day and while Khan has joined BJP, Hazra is expected to follow suit soon.
Khan was inducted to the party in New Delhi after his discussion with BJP national president Amit Shah. He is the first Lok Sabha MP to defect from TMC to BJP.
He joined BJP formally in the presence of Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, party national general secretary Bhupender Yadav, party leaders from Bengal Mukul Roy and Rahul Sinha.
Roy said that at least five more MPs from TMC were ready to switch to BJP and would soon do so.
Khan blamed ‘syndicate raj’ in West Bengal to be the reason for his switching camps. “There is a syndicate raj in Bengal, especially in Bankura district. Democracy does not exist in Bengal and the entire state is being ruled by ‘pishi’ and ‘bhaipo’ (aunty and nephew, referring to Mamata and Abhishek Banerjee),” Khan said.
He said that polls take peacefully across the country whereas murders are being reported from Bengal everyday and people were killed even during panchayat elections. “Law and order has touched rock bottom,” he said and added that he had joined BJP getting inspiration from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’.
While TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said that Khan had been expelled from the party following corruption charges and Hazra had been dismissed because of his activities which has brought the party a bad name.
Both Khan and Hazra refuted charges. Khan said that there is no specific charges against him because he never indulged in ccorrupt practices and Hazra brushed aside the allegations saying “I have neither been named in Saradha or Narada scams and neither have I raised money taking Mamata’s name or using my position. My only offence was my posts which the party found offensive and last year itself I had got rid of my facebook profile.”
Opposition party leaders were quick to take a dig at TMC. “Rather than stopping the bandh supporters the TMC supremo should be more concerned in stopping the ongoing attrition in her own party,” said CPI(M) state secretary Dr Surjyakanta Mishra.
TMC leaders, however, are not ready to pay too much importance to the defection. “He should have done this sometime ago and not now when election is at the doorstep.
If he has the courage he should resign and come back winning as the BJP candidate. He will also have to give people an account of the Rs 7.5 crore MP LAD and how it has been spent.
Khan is known for his proximity to Mukul Roy and his switching was expected within the party. Party sources said that both Khan and Hazra would not have got a party ticket for the upcoming MP elections and that is why they had quit. They chose BJP over any other party looking at the growing popularity of the party in Bengal and how it has come up to number two leaving Congress and the Left behind.
Saumitra Khan said that in Bengal, only the words of those two leaders are respected. No other leaders are given any importance. He also alleged that Mamata government is unleashing a police state. Saumitra has alleged that even as a MP , he is not secured and he fears for his life.
Abhishek Banerjee reacted to Saumitra’s action saying that he would not be able to win from a single booth in Bishnupur in the next elections.
In the evening, TMC formally expelled Saumitra Khan from the party. Another MP to get the boot is Anupam Hazra, who is parliamentarian from Bolpur.
TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said that Anupam wasn’t following party’s ideas and ideology and hence was being removed. There is speculation that Anupam will also join