File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
A minister of the ruling Mamata Banerjee government resigned from party and government today and joined the BJP.
As a minister of state, Manjul Krishna Thakur was handling the refugee relief and rehabilitation portfolio.Mr Thakur's son and panchayat functionary Subrata Thakur also joined the BJP.
Accusing the party of functioning in a "whimsical" way, Mr Thakur said he was feeling "suffocated".
"Hurdles were being created in every step I took to do something for the Matua community. In spite of the promise by (chief minister) Mamata Banerjee before the 2011 Assembly polls, no development has taken place," he told a media conference. "Whenever I tried to inform her, she just listened without taking any action."
The Matua community comprises a chunk of the electorate in the Bongaon Parliamentary constituency, which fell vacant after the death of the sitting TMC lawmaker, Mr Thakur's elder brother Kapil Krishna Thakur.
The by-election in the constituency will be held on February 13.
After the allegations about the party's involvement in the Saradha ponzi scam, things became worse, Mr Thakur said. "Whenever I move around the streets, I hear people mocking at me."
Mr Thakur's resignation is expected to come as a jolt to the ruling party, which is currently under pressure from the inroads the BJP has been making in the districts - especially in Birbhum. The workers of the two parties came to blows even two days ago.
Gaighata town, the heart of Mr Thakur's Gaighata constituency, is only 59 km from Kolkata.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha, who was also present at the press conference, said, "The joining of the first TMC minister to BJP is the beginning of the fall of the TMC government."
The Trinamool Congress said Mr Thakur's exit will not affect it in any way.
"We will take action against Manjul Krishna Thakur and Subrata Thakur as per procedure," said the party's secretary-general and education minister Partha Chatterjee.