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Trinamul gain in Congress stronghold

Jan. 2: Seventeen Murshidabad Congress leaders joined Trinamul today from a stronghold that had so far bucked the trend of defections elsewhere.

Following the switch of 15 panchayat members, the Congress lost control of the Parulia and Margram rural bodies. District Congress secretary Abu Kashem and a member of the party-run Murshidabad zilla parishad, Mafizul Islam, also defected to Trinamul at the ruling party’s headquarters in Kasba in the presence of all-India general secretary Mukul Roy.

The defections came two months after Trinamul increased its vote share in the Behrampore municipal polls to 27.86 per cent from 2.8 per cent five years ago.

State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya today accused Trinamul of using “pressure tactics” to engineer defections but added that his party was “invincible” in Murshidabad.

“Our gram panchayat members succumbed to pressure tactics of the ruling party. Those who joined Trinamul today did so because of threats by the party’s leaders,” he said.

Asked if the defections were an indication of the Congress’s loosening grip on Murshidabad, Bhattacharya said: “Our party is invincible in Murshidabad.”

Former CPM minister Gautam Deb also accused Trinamul of using threats to poach Left leaders and workers, adding “this has to be resisted at any cost before the Lok Sabha elections”.

Refuting the allegation of intimidation to engineer defections, Trinamul MP Roy said: “Trinamul is a disciplined party and does not believe in terror tactics. People from other parties are joining us because they are displeased with their parent organisations.”