Alo Rani Sarkar, the Trinamul Congress candidate for Bongaon South in the 2021 Assembly elections who was identified as a Bangladeshi national by Calcutta High Court on Friday, was a BJP member until 2017 and had contested a poll for the party.
The BJP was left with egg on its face as the party had launched a campaign accusing Trinamul of fielding an “illegal Bangladeshi immigrant”.
Amit Malviya, the BJP’s information technology cell chief and Bengal co-minder, had tweeted: “Not only illegal Bangladeshi migrants are Mamata Banerjee’s voters but even candidates! Alorani Sarkar, who the TMC fielded from reserved seat of Bangaon Dakshin, is also a registered voter in Bangladesh. Reason why TMC’s win in 2021 remains questionable.”
However, it was Malviya’s own party that had introduced Sarkar to electoral politics. She had been fielded as the BJP’s Bijpur candidate in the 2016 Assembly elections and lost to Trinamul’s Subhrangshu Roy. In 2017 after Subhrangshu’s father Mukul Roy joined the BJP, Sarkar switched to Trinamul.
“It is hard to understand how the BJP can make such allegations when they themselves had fielded Alo Rani in 2016,” said Trinamul minister Tapas Roy. He added that Sarkar must prove that she was an Indian.
Sarkar lost to the BJP’s Swapan Majumdar in 2021, following which she had filed an election petition with the high court challenging the result.
Justice Bibek Chaudhuri rejected the petition on Friday and noted that Sarkar was a Bangladeshi citizen on the date of filing the nomination, the poll day and on the date of the declaration of the result. The court ordered the Election Commission of India to initiate action against Sarkar.
The judgment was posted by the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, in tweets on Friday. He also shared a purported Trinamul document dated August 16, 2021, where Sarkar was named as chief of the party’s Bongaon organisational district.
“Shouldn’t the registration of such a political party be cancelled?” Adhikari asked, tagging the ECI, the chief electoral officer of Bengal, Union home minister Amit Shah, his office and Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Several BJP leaders, speaking to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity, said Adhikari’s proposition to de-register Trinamul ironically applied to their party too.
Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said the party was unaware of Sarkar’s Bangladeshi nationality when she was with them. “Yes we had fielded her in 2016, but we didn’t know about her nationality. However, Trinamul cannot get away with this. This is exactly why we demand the quick implementation of the CAA in Bengal,” he said.