HnExpress Mayank Chakravarty, Barrackpore : Ending days of speculation, BJP vice-president and the party’s Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh joined the Trinamool Congress on Sunday the latest in a long list of BJP leaders to return to the Mamata Banerjee-led party. Singh joined the party in the presence of Banerjee and other TMC leaders, including state minister Jyotipriya Mallick and Barrackpore MLA Raj Chakraborty, both leaders from North 24 Parganas, the district to which Singh belongs.
Around 4 pm Sunday, Singh drove to Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee’s Camac Street office. Minutes later, the TMC national general secretary extended “a warm welcome” to the Barrackpore MP.Before the joining, Singh visited the Taj Bengal hotel where he stayed for four hours before he visited Banerjee’s office around 4 pm and had a long discussion with Banerjee and other senior leaders before the joining was officially confirmed.TMC suffered the most when Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Shuvendu Adhikari left the party.
Mukul has already returned and Arjun joined today. So, it’s a big gain for the TMC and a huge, huge setback for the BJP,” the leader said.Within a month of the TMC’s landslide victory in the Assembly election, Mamata’s lieutenant Mukul Roy resigned from the BJP and joined his old party in the presence of the TMC leadership. He was followed by Rajib Banerjee, Joyprakash Majumder, Babul Supriyo, among many others but Singh’s homecoming can only be compared to Mukul Roy’s in scale.
Who is He, and Why his presence matters : Singh followed his father Satyanarayan Singh, a known Congress worker in Barrackpore, into politics. In 1995, Singh was elected to the Bhatpara municipality on a Congress ticket. But he quit the party and joined Mamata Banerjee, when she left the Congress to set up the TMC in 1998. Singh’s family originally hails from Siwan of Bihar. A connection that helped him build the TMC organisation in the industrial belt of North 24 Parganas, where most of the voters are Hindi-speaking migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
In 2001, he became TMC MLA from Bhatpara and followed it up with three more wins from the seat. He also headed the TMC’s Hindi wing and was in charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Punjab. The Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency has a strong presence of Hindi-speaking people who mostly work in the jute mills. Arjun Singh, heavyweight leader of the area was elected to the assembly four times on Trinamool ticket. Before 2019, Lok Sabha election, he joined BJP and defeated heavyweight Dinesh Trivedi in a closely fought contest.
Reactions and statements : “The was Trinamool Congress is working on the development of Bengal is worth appreciating. I am from the jute mill area and the people there have been suffering because of the Centre’s unjust policies. BJP is limited to Facebook and other social mediums. It is not possible to do politics only on Facebook. Working on the ground is important in Bengal and the BJP is losing out on that as their leaders are sitting in air-conditioned rooms.” Said Arjun Singh. Meanwhile Welcoming him into the party’s fold.
Abhishek Banerjee tweeted : Extending a warm welcome to Shri@ArjunsinghWB, who rejected the divisive forces at @BJP4India and joined the @AITCofficial family today. People across the nation are suffering and they need us now more than ever. Let’s keep the fight alive.” And Congress and CPI(M) : “It’s old understanding between the BJP and TMC. Modi’s people will join Didi and Didi’s people will join BJP. All the corrupt people of Didi’s party will eventually return,” Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
Taking a dig at Arjun Singh, CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said : “A few months ago, Mamata Banerjee described him as a criminal. He has TMC on his right and BJP on his left and keeps swinging between them.” Consequences and indications : He is likely to be followed by his son Pawan, the Bhatpara BJP MLA, giving TMC a stranglehold over all seven assembly segments that make up the Barrackpore Lok Sabha before the crucial 2024 general elections.
Singh’s induction into the TMC will indicate the party solidifying its base in the Barrackpore region again which was slowly becoming a BJP stronghold, while also running the risk of alienating minority votes in the area. Until now, the minority votes were loyally behind the TMC.However, the induction of Babul Supriyo and Arjun Singh does beg the question whether TMC is also going after BJP’s Hindu votes.