In a statement that stood out even in the high-pitched campaign in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said 40 Trinamool legislators were "in touch" with the BJP. That number is in triple digits now, some BJP leaders are claiming. In fact, the first exit may be imminent.
The Trinamool on Friday suspended for six years its MLA Subhranshu Roy, who also happens to be the son of Mukul Roy, once Mamata Banerjee's right-hand man, now a key architect of BJP's Bengal bonanza.
Roy junior was suspended for anti-party comments. He has said BJP is an option.
Mr Roy's comments included praise for his father.
"I am proud of my father. (When he left the Trinamool) many had said they would create lakhs of Mukul Roys. But I will say this one Mukul Roy, who built the Trinamool with his own hands, he has smashed the party. He is now striding across Bengal like a Chanakya," he said.
That is definitely not something Trinamool wants to hear at a time when it is reeling from the loss of 12 Lok Sabha seats.
Partha Chatterjee, the party's secretary general, said this evening, "The disciplinary committee met and, after a nod from Mamata Banerjee, we have decided to expel Subhranshu Roy for six years for public comments against the party."
Dilip Ghosh, state chief of the BJP and newly-elected parliamentarian from Medinipur, said, "If 40 people from Trinamool are in touch with the PM, that's good. At least a hundred are in touch with us and slowly making their way to Delhi. The speed will increase now that the situation has changed. Trinamool is internally in turmoil."
Indeed, over the last one week, there have been reports of Trinamool rank and file and leaders planning to jump ship. At least two Trinamool MPs who have now won reportedly received feelers from Mukul Roy himself.
Trinamool dismisses such reports. "Mukul Roy is just trying to stir the pot. He will call our MPs from some number and say 'hello and how are you' and then claim he has talked to them about switching sides. No one is going anywhere," sources said.
For Subhranshu's outburst, the immediate provocation was that despite being a Trinamool MLA from Bjipur, he had failed to give Trinamool's Barrackpore Lok Sabha candidate Dinesh Trivedi, a lead from his Assembly segment.
"I failed. Bijpur gave a lead to BJP. I had forgotten Bijpur was not mine alone. I was son of soil at Bijpur. So is my father. I lost to my father. I did my best for my party. My father did his best for his party. People chose my father," he said.
It is not a surprise that the proud son of a 'Chanakya' father may want to follow in his father's footsteps. All eyes now on whether Subhranshu Roy will open the Trinamool floodgates.
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