The BJP’s efforts to quell reports of reverse migration of its leaders to the ruling Trinamool Congress failed today as a section of its MLAs stayed away from Suvendu Adhikari’s meeting with the Governor. Mr Adhikari — who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Bengal Assembly — had met Governor Jagdeep Dhankar at the Raj Bhavan this evening with a delegation of party MLAs.
The meeting was meant to apprise the Governor of “several inappropriate incidents happening in Bengal and discuss other important matters”.
But with 24 of the BJP’s 74 MLAs failing to accompany him, speculation started about the possibility of further reverse migration from the party. The matter also gave credence to the view that not all MLAs were ready to accept Suvendu Adhikari’s leadership.
Mr Adhikari — who joined the BJP last December — had gained prominence in the party initially by convincing a large number of leaders to follow him and then by his victory against Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram in a closely fought election.
After the election, he was named the leader of opposition and in a departure from norm, was even invited to a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee at a cyclone review meet last month.
Sources have said several MLAs are upset and some are indeed in touch with the Trinamool, hoping to return following the footsteps of Mukul Roy.
Last week, Mr Roy — the first key Trinamool leader to join the BJP — returned to the ruling party. Several other leaders, including Rajib Banerjee, Dipendu Biswas and Subhrangshu Roy, are expected to follow suit.
Chief Minster Mamata Banerjee has said her party will “consider the case of those who had left TMC with Mukul for BJP and want to come back”. Her party said more than 30 MLAs have been in touch with them.
Before Mr Roy, leaders like Sonali Guha and Dipendu Biswas had openly said that they wished to return to the party and sought the Chief Minister’s forgiveness.
The BJP has been maintaining that all is well. But Suvendu Adhikari said they will seek to invoke the anti-defection law against those headed back to the Trinamool.
Asked about his father who defected from Trinamool to the BJP, Suvendu Adhikari said he would only speak about the MLAs.
Along with senior leaders, even party workers now say they wish to return to the Trinamool.
A video from Bengal’s Birbhum shows BJP workers sitting on dharna outside the Trinamool office seeking to return to the party. The workers are seen holding placards and are heard apologizing to Mamata Banerjee and appealing to her to take them.