Bayron Biswas of the Congress joins Trinamool Congress
In a jolt to the Congress, its lone MLA in West Bengal Assembly, Bayron Biswas, on Monday joined the Trinamool in the presence of the ruling party's national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
Soon after Mr Biswas, the Sagardighi MLA, switched over to the TMC, Mr Banerjee asserted that the Congress has to decide whether it wants to oppose the ruling party in the state or the BJP at the Centre.
Nearly three months after winning the minority-dominated constituency in a by-poll, Mr Biswas, who is known as a beedi baron in the area, joined the Trinamool in the Ghatal area in Paschim Medinipur district, and said the Congress had "no role in his victory".
"Today, during the ongoing #JonoSanjogYatra in the presence of Shri @abhishekaitc, INC MLA from Sagardighi Bayron Biswas joined us. We wholeheartedly welcome him to the Trinamool Congress family! "To strengthen your resolve to fight against the divisive and discriminatory politics of BJP, you have chosen the right platform. Together, we will win!" the All India Trinamool Congress said on Twitter.
Mr Biswas switched over to the Trinamool during the party's ongoing mass outreach campaign – Trinamool eh Nabojowaar (New wave in Trinamool).
Mr Biswas' victory from the Sagardighi seat helped the grand old party secure representation in the state assembly, as it had failed to open its account in the 2021 assembly elections.
Later in the day, while holding a press conference, Banerjee said that with the joining of Mr Biswas, the "rainbow alliance of the BJP and the Congress" to oppose the Trinamool has been defeated in the state.
"We all know about the unethical rainbow alliance that was forged through tacit understanding between the BJP and the Congress in Bengal. With the joining of Biswas, this rainbow alliance now stands defeated. The Congress has to decide whom they want to fight.
"They can't claim that they are fighting against the BJP at the Centre by opposing the TMC in Bengal. This double standard has to stop," he said.
Abhishek, the nephew of Mamata Banerjee, also asserted that "Biswas joined the TMC as he felt that it is the only force which can fight against the BJP in Bengal".
He, however, dismissed the allegation that the TMC is trying to finish off the Congress in the state.
"Biswas wanted to join us as he felt that we only fought against the BJP in Bengal. We have no intention to poach Congress leaders. If I had to do that, I could have asked him to join during the mass outreach campaign in Murshidabad district," the two-time Diamond Harbour MP said.
He also stated that many senior Congress leaders and MPs are in touch with the TMC leadership, but the ruling party in Bengal, for the sake of opposition unity, has "kept its doors closed".
Mr Biswas refuted the allegations of being a "traitor" who ditched Congress.
"If the Congress' organisation was so strong in the Sagardighi assembly segment, the party would have won the seat in 2021. But that did not happen. I had won the seat because of my goodwill," he said, adding that the Congress in Bengal is "averse" to fight against the saffron camp.
Mr Biswas joining the TMC comes at a time when parties opposed to the BJP are trying to forge an opposition unity in the fight against the saffron camp in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)