KOLKATA: Bayron Biswas, the only Congress legislator in the West Bengal assembly, joined the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday in the presence of the ruling party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. Biswas, who was fielded by the Congress for the Murshidabad district’s Sagardighi assembly bypoll in February this year, was also backed by the Left.
“I am happy that Biswas has joined us to work against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He will be TMC’s soldier in Murshidabad,” Abhishek Banerjee said, welcoming Biswas at an event in West Midnapore district’s Ghatal area, over 200 from Sagardighi.
Banerjee said the “so-called rainbow alliance of the Left and Congress” only helped the BJP in West Bengal because the TMC is the main political force in the state
“We congratulated the Congress when it won the Karnataka state polls. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee sent out a clear message saying parties that are strong enough to take the BJP head on should do so.”
The Congress and the Left parties drew a blank in the 2021 assembly elections, unable to win a single seat for the first time since Independence.
Bayron Biswas’s victory in a by-election in February this year prompted the Congress and the Left to project the win as the ‘Sagardigjhi model’, especially because they believed the Muslims who comprise 66.28 % of the population in Murshidabad district, the state’s highest, were believed to have voted for their joint candidate, Biswas rather than Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
Asked whether Biswas would resign and contest another bypoll, Abhishek Banerjee said: “The assembly speaker will decide whether he has violated anti-defection laws. If the speaker says, Biswas will contest again.”
Biswas said he moved out of the Congress because the state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wasn’t as aggressive against the BJP. “He always focuses his attack on the TMC,” Biswas said.
“The Congress had no contribution to my victory. I always wanted to contest on a TMC ticket. Why is Congress calling me a traitor now? Could they win even one seat in 2021? I left because I was not being able to work in the Congress. I wanted the right platform,” said Biswas.
Chowdhury alleged that the ruling party pressured Biswas to switch since the TMC couldn’t accept its Sagardighi defeat.
“They were putting pressure on Bayron for three months. They went all out to reverse the poll verdict. I urge Bayron not to question Congress now. Our leaders and workers worked hard to ensure his victory,” Chowdhury said
Abhishek Banerjee took a swipe at Chowdhury who had famously described the victory of the Left-Congress alliance from Sagardighi as “the beginning of the end of Mamata Banerjee.”
Banerjee said: “If I press a button, four Congress MPs, of whom some are from other states, will join us tomorrow. You will be shocked if I reveal their names. We do not do these things because we believe in courtesy. I challenge Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. He won’t be able to stop his party leaders from leaving if we open our doors.”
CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya criticised Biswas for switching sides.
“Some spineless animals will always be on sale. It is a matter of shame that a party believes in buying MLAs. This defection will not weaken the Left-Congress alliance,” said Bhattacharya.
The Sagardhighi bypoll was held because of the death of the sitting Trinamool Congress MLA Subrata Saha who won the seat three times. Biswas secured 47.35 % votes while TMC’s share dropped to 34.94%. The BJP came third with 13.94 % votes.
Following the defeat, Mamata Banerjee made significant changes in the TMC’s organisational setup in Murshidabad which she blamed on the “unholy alliance” of Congress and Left parties to defeat TMC.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said : “The defection will not help TMC regain the Muslim votes in Sagardighi. A candidate doesn’t control voters. It is Congress that should be worried. On Sunday, Chowdhury said his party will fight TMC in Bengal even if there is an alliance at national level. And today, he gave his only MLA as gift to TMC.”
The BJP bagged 77 assembly seats while the TMC won 213 when the polls were held in 292 of 294 seats in 2021. Polls in two seats were postponed. These were later won by TMC.
The BJP’s tally effectively came down to 70 since it lost two seats to the TMC in by-polls and five legislators joined the TMC without resigning from the party. With the turncoat leaders from BJP and Congress’s Biswas, TMC’s effective tally in the assembly has gone up to 223.