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Eye on ruling party, 2 of Cong back TMC

Calcutta, Feb. 7: Two Congress MLAs from party bastions today voted for Trinamul candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections and said they would join the ruling party.

The cross-voting by Emani Biswas, who represents Suti in Murshidabad, and Sushil Chandra Roy, the MLA of Gajole in Malda, has dealt a blow to the Congress at a time the party has been pushed to the wall by defections.

Saumitra Khan from Bankura’s Kotulpur, a first-time MLA like Biswas and Roy, also voted for Trinamul. Khan had joined Trinamul a few months ago but is still technically a Congress MLA.

The Congress, which failed to ensure the victory of the Independent candidate it was backing because of the cross-voting and the Left’s refusal to transfer its additional first-preference votes, suspended Biswas and Roy in the evening.

“I have suspended the two errant MLAs for an indefinite period,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said tonight.

A state Congress general secretary viewed the cross-voting as a “potential danger” to the organisation.

“Trinamul has already snatched at least nine elected civic bodies from us by wooing our councillors. Today’s development poses a potential danger to us because more MLAs, councillors and functionaries could join Trinamul,” a state Congress general secretary said.

Biswas and Roy, who did not attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting yesterday to discuss the Rajya Sabha polls, today said they had done “nothing wrong” by voting for Trinamul.

Biswas, 39, told The Telegraph: “I have done nothing wrong by voting for Trinamul’s nominees. Once I get the suspension letter, I will join Trinamul.”

Backing his decision, the Suti MLA who had once been close to Adhir Chowdhury said: “I had contested the 2011 Assembly elections as a candidate of the Congress-Trinamul alliance. So my conscience did not allow me to vote for a candidate who was jointly backed by my party and the Left.”

A Murshidabad Congress secretary said if Biswas defected to Trinamul, it would affect the organisation in the district. “Several of our leaders, including gram panchayat pradhans, switched to Trinamul last month.”

Gajole MLA Roy, 48, said he decided to vote for Trinamul “after much deliberation”.

“I think if I align myself with the ruling party, it will help me expedite development work in my constituency,” he said.

MLA Roy, who said he would switch to Trinamul, claimed to have spoken to Mamata Banerjee and Mukul Roy on the demand to turn Gajole into a municipal area.

Abu Naser Khan Choudhury, the Congress MLA from Malda’s Sujapur, said he voted for Congress-backed Independent A.S. Malihabadi as “blood is thicker than politics”.

Abu Naser had yesterday met Mamata and expressed his wish to join Trinamul, fuelling speculation that he could cast his vote in favour of the ruling party. But he had not commented on the Rajya Sabha polls.

Today, Abu Naser said: “I called on the chief minister yesterday and indicated that I might join Trinamul. But to me, blood is thicker than politics. So I voted for the Congress-backed Independent. My elder brother A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury belonged to the Congress. All my family members belong to the Congress family.”