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Cong MLA to switch

Calcutta, Nov. 24: Five-time Congress MLA from Nadia’s Santipur, Ajoy De, has said he will join Trinamul tomorrow along with 18 of the 19 Congress councillors of the local municipality, of which he is the chairman.

Trinamul sources said De, who has been the chairman of Santipur municipality for six consecutive terms, had been promised a ministerial berth.

If De and the 18 councillors join Trinamul, the party will take control of the municipality. Trinamul has taken over eight Congress-run civic bodies, including three in Nadia, in the past three months riding on defections.

State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharaya said tonight that De had been suspended from the party.

De, 61, said he would reach Trinamul Bhavan in Topsia at 3pm tomorrow with the party councillors.

The Congress veteran said he had taken the “decision to align with Mamata Banerjee” after “realising that the association with the ruling party could help me carry out development projects in Santipur town”.

De expressed his unhappiness over the state Congress leadership’s “inept handling of the prevailing state of affairs” in the organisation. “There is no initiative on the part of those at the helm of the state Congress to stand by party workers who are being regularly attacked in the districts,” he said.

Asked if he had been promised a ministerial berth, De replied in the negative. “I met Mamatadi and Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy on a number of occasions but I did not ask for anything.”

The state Congress leadership dubbed De “an opportunist” and accused him of “secretly maintaining contact with Trinamul despite being a Congress MLA”.

Nadia Congress president Shankar Singh said: “He had secretly helped Trinamul engineer the defection of Congress councillors in Nadia.”

De denied the charge.

Trinamul civic boost

Trinamul today took sole control of Bongaon municipality in North 24-Parganas after five Congress councillors joined the ruling party. The two parties were jointly at the helm of the civic board.

In the 22-member board, Trinamul had seven councillors and the Congress five. The Opposition Left has 10.