Six Trinamool Congress MLAs in Tripura have officially committed their support to NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, validating speculation that they are all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. This reporter was the first to confirm that the six MLAs—Sudip Roy Barman, Biswabandhu Sen, Dibachandra Hrangkhawal, Ashish Saha, Dilip Sarkar and Pranjit Singha Roy—have secretly made a pact with the ruling party at the Centre and they would defect to it around the time of the presidential election, scheduled on 17 July (Tripura TMC MLAs set to defect to BJP, 10 June).

One of these MLAs confirmed to The Sunday Guardian again that their joining the BJP is only a matter of time and an announcement will be made any day following the presidential election. He confirmed that all six of them had been asked by Himanta Biswa Sarma, a minister in the BJP led Assam government and convener of the North East Democratic Alliance, to vote for Kovind and their meeting with the BJP’s presidential nominee too had been arranged under his aegis.

“Himanta Biswa Sarma had been instrumental in forging an understanding with the BJP. He told us that it was time we made our allegiance known. He arranged the meeting between us and Kovind. He asked us to pledge our support to him,” the MLA told this reporter on the condition of anonymity. The rebel group, which had defected from the Congress only last year, was suspended from TMC on Monday, after they communicated their decision to support Kovind to Mamata Banerjee, TMC chief and Chief Minister of West Bengal. They met Kovind on Thursday in Guwahati.

“We told her (Mamata Banerjee) that we cannot possibly support Congress candidate Meira Kumar as she is also being backed by the CPM, our sworn foe in state politics. We told her we have no option but to support Kovind,” the MLA explained.

This reporter had earlier mentioned that the state BJP unit of Tripura was creating obstacle in the TMC MLAs’ way. The suspended TMC MLAs had initially demanded that 15 to 20 seats in the state’s Assembly, which goes to polls early next year, be left for them and their core supporters. But this MLA clarified that they have “softened” their stand.

“No decision on seat sharing has been taken. But all thaws have been cleared. We will be joining the BJP. The decision regarding seats etc. will be made at a later stage by Sarma and Ram Madhav (BJP national general secretary),” the MLA told this newspaper.

A TMC source had earlier told this reporter that the six MLAs were disillusioned with Mamata Banerjee’s lack of interest in Tripura and started responding to overtures from the BJP post byelections in Khowai and Barjala, in which it made massive inroads. In Barjala, the BJP finished a close second to the CPM, which won both the seats.

All six MLAs are of the belief that joining hands with the BJP will “create a vigorous atmosphere to dislodge the CPM government”, which has been in power for over two decades in the north-eastern state.

A Congress MLA from Tripura, Ratan Lal Nath (Mohanpur, west Tripura), has also announced support for Kovind and is expected to defect to the BJP.


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