A BJP Lok Sabha candidate seen with a Trinamool Congress leader on Monday has been asked by his leadership to explain the meeting in a showcause notice. Anupam Hazra, the BJP candidate in Jadavpur, reportedly had lunch with Trinamool leader Anubrata Mondal at Birbhum, where he voted yesterday.
The meeting has embarrassed the party on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a rally in Bengal, declared that "40 Trinamool legislators" are in touch with him and ready to leave Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party.
Anupam Hazra had won the 2014 election from Bolpur as a Trinamool candidate. He had joined the BJP just last month after being expelled from the Trinamool for "anti-party" activities. His meeting with the Trinamool leader set off speculation of his return to his former party.
"Anubrata Mondal is the last word in Birbhum district. I came to offer condolences on the death of his mother," Mr Hazra said, describing the Trinamool leader as his "uncle". He did not rule out returning to the Trinamool, saying: "Only time will tell."
Anubrata Mondal said he exchanged pleasantries with Mr Hazra but did not wish him victory in the Jadavpur seat, where voting will take place in the last round of elections on May 19. "He made a foolish mistake and left the party. His father is a friend of mine. If he accepts his mistake, he may come back to us. I can make him MP again. I can speak to (Trinamool chief) Mamata Banerjee about it," the Trinamool strongman said.
The BJP's Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh said: "He has said it was a courtesy visit. But it would have been better had he met Anubrata Mondal on some other day. In our party, we have discipline and we all have to maintain that."
Also yesterday, PM Modi, addressing a rally in Serampore near Kolkata, had said: "Didi, on 23 May, the day of results, the lotus will bloom everywhere and your MLAs will leave you and run. Even today, Didi, 40 of your MLAs are in contact with me".
Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien accused the Prime Minister of "horse trading" and said the party would complain to the Election Commission.