In a development that could provide a major boost to the ruling BJP in Tripura ahead of the February 16 Assembly polls, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MLA Moboshar Ali and Trinamool Congress leader Subal Bhowmik on Friday joined the saffron party in the national capital.
Ali and Bhowmik joined the BJP at the party headquarters in Delhi in presence of Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha, state party president Rajib Bhattacharjee, and the party’s spokesperson and northeastern states’ in-charge Sambit Patra.
BJP sources also said that senior Congress leader Billal Mia and some other leaders are also likely to join the saffron party.
Mia, however, denied the possibility of joining the BJP. Ali was elected to the Tripura Assembly from Kailasahar constituency in northern Tripura in 2018, while Mia won the Boxanagar seat in western Tripura twice, in 1988 and 1998.
Both Ali and Mia are senior leaders of their respective parties.
The Trinamool Congress removed Subal Bhowmik from the post of Tripura unit state president on August 24 last year, but he was in the party.
Bhowmik, a former Congress MLA, joined the Trinamool Congress in July 2021.
He had jumped ship from the BJP to the Congress in 2019.
“The party is in talks with a few other CPI-M and Congress leaders to join the party, ” a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.
“The BJP is likely to nominate both Ali and Mia to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls, ” he told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
When contacted, Congress leader Mia, also a former minister, told IANS: “At this moment, I am not joining any other party. As I am in politics, leaders of any party can talk to me about their offers.”
About the queries about which leaders and parties talked with him, Mia said: “No comments at the moment.”
The CPI-M-led five Left parties announced their 47 candidates on Wednesday, leaving 13 seats to their new ally Congress while dropping 8 sitting MLAs including Ali.
The Kailasahar assembly constituency, from where Ali was elected in the 2018 Assembly polls, was allotted to Congress.
Former four-time Chief Minister and CPI-M’s Politburo member Manik Sarkar, party stalwart and former minister Badal Chowdhury, three more former ministers — Tapan Chakraborty, Sahid Chowdhury, Bhanulal Saha — were also dropped on health grounds.
Congress leaders are visibly upset over the meagre allotment of seats to them.
Sounding disappointed, Congress leader and the party’s lone MLA, Sudip Roy Barman, said that they had first demanded 27 seats, and then 23 seats from the Left parties.
“They (Left parties) have taken the decision as per their whims and fancies, we would go as per the wishes of the people, ” Roy Barman told IANS.