In a blow to the saffron camp ahead of the upcoming panchayat elections in West Bengal, the BJP MLA Alipurduar MLA, Suman Kanjilal, joined the ruling Trinamool Congress in Kolkata on Sunday.
The TMC released an official statement confirming the switch and adding that Kanjilal took the party flag in the presence of TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee at his Camac Street office in Kolkata.
"The BJP leader (Suman Kanjilal) shifted allegiance to the Mamata Banerjee-led party ahead of the panchayat elections due in the state this year. Rejecting the anti-people policies & hate-laden agenda of @BJP4India, Shri Suman Kanjilal joined the AITC family today, in the presence of our National General Secretary Shri @abhishekaitc. Yet another @BJP4Bengal MLA realises the truth that BJP has no intention to serve people," the TMC tweeted from its official handle.
However, BJP's state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya sought to play down the switch, claiming that Kanjilal's exit won't affect the BJP's prospects in the ensuing panchayat polls.
With the exit of the Alipurduar MLA, the BJP's strength in the West Bengal Assembly was reduced to 69.
The BJP, which bagged 77 seats in the last Assembly polls in the state, had earlier lost 5 MLAs to the ruling party.
In the 2021 Assembly polls, te BJP had made a clean sweep at Alipurduar district, winning all five seats. The TMC, despite reaching the majority mark and returning to power for the third time, failed to open its account in the North Bengal district.
Kanjilal, who was formerly a journalist, joined politics in 2020. BJP had first announced economist Ashok Lahiri as its Alipurduar candidate, but later veered to Kanjilal while the former was nominated from the Balurghat Assembly constituency in Dakshin Dinajpur district. (ANI)