Congress leader and Member of the Legislative Assembly from Gangarampur constituency in South Dinajpur, Gautam Das, on Sunday switched over to the Trinamul Congress in Balurghat.
District president of the Trinamul Congress, Bipllab Mitra, welcomed Mr Das to the TMC camp with a party flag and a bouquet of flowers. According to political observers in South Dinajpur, prior to the panchayat elections, the move could be a major blow to the Congress party in the district.
“This move may also encourage Congress leaders to switch over to the TMC or any other party in the near future,” an observer said. The district Congress president, meanwhile, avoided phone calls. Mr Das was earlier the only MLA in South Dinajpur who represented the Congress.
He defeated TMC leader and former MLA of Gangarampur, Satyan Roy with support of the CPI-M, and he maintained a lead margin of 10,733 votes. It was a confirmed seat for CPI-M candidate Nandalal Hazra. However, following the guidelines and instructions from the party, the CPI-M had to withdraw its candidate from the seat and support the Congress for the Gangarampur seat.
According to records of the last 10 elections in Gangarampur, Congress party does not have a good hold in the area. However, the party won the seat with the help from the CPI-M. Mr Das was a close associate of the district President of the Congress, Nilanjan Roy, and recently in February, they had jointly organised a protest rally against the South Dinajpur Zilla Parisad and also kicked off the panchayat poll campaign.
However, following the rally, it was learnt that Mr Das was only trying to meet senior leaders of the Trinamul Congress at Kolkata. A senior Congress leader of Balurghat, meanwhile, said, “Neither the state nor the district leaders have any plans to make the party organization stronger here. Leaders like Mr Das are in panic, and to secure their political career, they are joining other parties. If this trend continues for the next few months, the district Congress will be wiped out.”
“Mr Das says he wants to work for the people of Gangarampur. He had a talk with the state leaders. He will be working for the TMC in Gangarampur. He will be a helpful hand for us. We are proud to see that leaders from other parties are joining us. Prior to the panchayat elections, some leaders will join the TMC and we are confident that we will be winning almost all the seats,” said the district president of the TMC, Mr Mitra.