One-and-half months after six axed TMC MLAs joined the BJP, its leader on Wednesday urged the Tripura Assembly Speaker to recognise the legislators as BJP lawmakers.
“I have received a letter from Tripura BJP President Biplab Kumar Deb requesting me to recognise the six legislators as its party members,” Tripura Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath said.
“In response, I wrote a letter to the state BJP President to ask the six legislators to submit letters individually or collectively saying that they have shifted their allegiance from TMC to BJP.”
He said: “After getting the letter from all the six MLAs, I would call them for a meeting and start necessary procedure in this regard.”
Deb also requested the Speaker to recognise Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, one of the six members of the Legislative Assembly, as leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party legislator group.
Led by Sudip Roy Barman, five lawmakers — Ashish Kumar Saha, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, Biswa Bandhu Sen, Pranjit Singh Roy and Dilip Sarkar — accompanied by hundreds of former Trinamool Congress leaders and workers joined the BJP on August 7.
The six legislators, according to the Speaker, are still recognised as legislators of the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led TMC.
Veteran tribal leader Hrangkhawl said that after the Speaker accords his recognition, the BJP would be the main opposition group in the 60-member Assembly.
In the 60-member Assembly, the CPI-M-led Left Front has 51 members and the Congress only three members.
“We believe that the Speaker would complete the formalities very soon,” said Hrangkhawl, former Tripura Congress President.
After the recognition of the six legislators as BJP members, the Tripura Assembly will get its first saffron party members since the northeastern state got a legislative body — a 32-member Territorial council 60 years ago in 1957.
After the princely-ruled Tripura merged with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, the “C” category state under the North Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 — along with Manipur and Meghalaya on January 21, 1972 — became a full-fledged state with a 60-member Assembly.
The six TMC legislators had in June last year resigned from the Congress and joined the TMC to protest the Congress’s electoral alliance with the Left for the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections.
They, along with rebel Congress legislator Ratanlal Nath, voted for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election on July 17.
A BJP leader said Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congress Minister who joined the BJP before Assam elections and is now convenor of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, facilitated the TMC legislators’ entry into the party.
“Ratanlal Nath will also join the BJP soon,” a BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
The Congress has already served notice to Nath for anti-party activities and meeting BJP leaders, including party chief Amit Shah. According to party sources, he was likely to be expelled soon.
However, Nath has been evading queries about joining the BJP though he has met many of its state and central leaders in recent months.
The Left-ruled state goes to polls in February next year.