Bengal Trinamul legislator Arjun Singh joins BJP

The 56-year-old is the fifth lawmaker from Bengal to switch sides before the announcement of the BJP’s Bengal candidates

  • Published 15.03.19, 1:56 AM
  • Updated 15.03.19, 1:56 AM
  • a min read
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Arjun Singh (centre) after joining the BJP in New Delhi on Thursday. (Prem Singh)

Four-time Trinamul MLA Arjun Singh joined the BJP in New Delhi on Thursday, ending a three-decade association with Mamata Banerjee after her efforts to placate him over a Lok Sabha nomination he had hoped for failed.

Singh, 56, is the fifth sitting lawmaker from Bengal to switch sides before the announcement of the BJP’s Bengal candidates.

“We have been in touch with several leaders of other parties, especially Trinamul. Many of those who can’t make it to their parties’ list of candidates are interested in joining us,” said a BJP source.

Although the promise of a ticket from Barrackpore — Singh’s backyard from where Trinamul has renominated two-time MP Dinesh Trivedi — is believed to have swung Singh towards the BJP, he presented a different narrative and cited Mamata’s comments on the Pulwama attack and the air strikes as the reason.

“Her (Mamata’s) statements on Pulwama, while the whole nation was coping with grief, shook my faith in her,” Singh, also the Bhatpara civic chief, said at the BJP headquarters with Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior leader Mukul Roy by his side.

In Trinamul, Roy had been a bitter rival of Singh.

Singh — the son of three-time Congress Bhatpara MLA Satyanarayan Singh — claimed Trinamul had become money-minded. “Trinamul used to stand for Ma, Mati, Manush. Now, it is MMM — money, money, money.”

Mamata, according to Trinamul sources, had met Singh and Trivedi together on Monday.

“There are one or two who are greedy for candidature. Those who want to go can go, we will be better off without them…Those who engineer defections using money, I condemn them,” Mamata had said on Wednesday.

Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, once the victim of an attack blamed on Singh, said on Thursday: “Let’s see whether this Arjun can pull off a Mahabharat.”

TMC lines up protest

Trinamul has lined up protests on Friday and Saturday against the BJP’s demand that the Election Commission declare all Bengal booths “super sensitive” and appoint a “media observer” to ensure free and fair elections.