File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
In a setback to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) ahead of a crucial February 13 by-elections, its minister Manjul Krishna Thakur today quit the party, accusing it of functioning in a 'whimsical' way, and joined the BJP.
Manjul Krishna, Minister of Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation, joined the BJP along with his son Subrata Thakur, and immediately after accused the state government and the party of functioning in a 'whimsical' way.
"I have decided to join BJP today along with my son as I feel that TMC is no longer a party for honest and good politicians. The TMC government has not allowed me to work for the benefit of my Matua community," Mr Thakur told a press conference.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha, who was also present in the press conference, welcomed Manjul and his son into the BJP fold and said, "The joining of the first minister of TMC to BJP is the beginning of the fall of the TMC government in Bengal. Just wait and watch what happens in the next few days".
The joining of Mr Thakur just before the by-election to Bongaon parliamentary constituency on February 13, which fell vacant after the death of Mr Thakur's elder brother Kapil Krishna Thakur, a TMC MP, is of immense political significance as the Matua community forms a major chunk of the electorate in the constituency.
"I was feeling suffocated in the TMC. Hurdles were being created in every step I took to do something for the Matua community. Inspite of the promise by Mamata Banerjee before 2011 Assembly polls, no development has taken place. Whenever I tried to inform her, she just listened without taking any action," Mr Thakur said.
Mr Thakur said that after the Saradha chit fund scam came into fore, "Whenever I move around the streets, I hear people mocking at me. I want to work for my community and I feel that BJP is the only party which will help me achieve that".
On Mr Thakur joining his party, Siddharth Nath Singh, BJP national secretary in charge of Bengal, said, "We welcome Thakur in the BJP.
With his joining, BJP will gain more strength in Bengal and this is just the beginning. The list will grow".
Manjul Krishna also demanded a CBI probe into the death of his brother Kapil Krishna Thakur.
The state BJP president said, "His joining the BJP shows that both TMC and the government is facing severe crisis. The party leaders and workers have lost faith on their leader."
Asked whether the BJP would induct those TMC leaders whose names have cropped up in the Saradha chitfund scam, Mr Sinha said, "We are trying to create an anti-Saradha platform. So there is no question of inducting those who are tainted in the scam."