Presidential Election 2017: Seven Tripura MLAs likely to vote for Ram Nath Kovind

Agartala: Though the BJP has no elected lawmaker in Left-ruled Tripura, the party-led NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind is likely to get votes from seven MLAs — one from Congress and six from Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Congress MLA Ratanlal Nath, the former opposition leader of Tripura, reached Guwahati on Wednesday while the six axed TMC legislators reached Assam's main city on Thursday to meet Kovind.

Kovind is likely to start his campaign in the North Eastern states from Thursday or Friday, while Congress-led opposition's presidential nominee Meira Kumar is on a campaign tour to the region.

"Responding to the invitation of BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, party's Tripura unit President Biplab Kumar Deb, observer Sunil Deodhar and I came to Guwahati to meet the NDA presidential candidate," Congress MLA Ratanlal Nath told IANS over the phone from Guwahati on Thursday.

Following an invitation from the BJP, five of the six Congress-turned TMC legislators left here on Thursday to meet Kovind in Guwahati.

File image of NDA's nominee for Presidential Election 2017, Ram Nath Kovind. Twitter

File image of NDA's nominee for Presidential Election 2017, Ram Nath Kovind. Image courtesy: Twitter/airnewsalerts

Another TMC lawmaker Dilip Sarkar told IANS over the phone from Delhi that he would also attend the meeting between Kovind, BJP leaders and Tripura MLAs in Guwahati.

Sarkar is in the national capital for medical treatment.

According to media reports, all the seven MLAs, along with other party leaders and workers, are likely to join the BJP this month and they would discuss with BJP leaders in Guwahati about their joining the saffron party.

TMC Secretary General and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Monday said in Kolkata that the party will have no relations with the Tripura MLAs, who held a meeting at the TMC headquarters here on Wednesday and decided on their future course of action this month.

"We have yet to decide whether we would join the BJP or take another strategy. However, our only aim is to defeat the CPM (Communist Party of India-Marxist)-led ruling Left parties in Tripura in next year's assembly elections," said MLA Ashish Saha, who resigned as TMC state President on Wednesday.

MLA Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, who also resigned as TMC legislative party leader, said: "We earlier resigned from the Congress and joined the TMC last year due to the Congress' electoral alliance with the CPM before the West Bengal assembly elections. Now, Mamata Banerjee is herself backing Left-supported presidential candidate (Meira Kumar)."

TMC's key leader Sudip Roy Barman accused Mamata Banerjee of "gradually coming closer to the CPM".

"She undemocratically and unilaterally broke relations with six party MLAs in Tripura on Monday without hearing our views. She did not bother to inform us that the TMC is supporting Congress' presidential candidate. We can support Meira Kumar if she is the TMC nominee," Barman told reporters before leaving for Guwahati.

Meanwhile, the Congress also recently served a show-cause notice to senior legislator Ratan Lal Nath for "anti-party activities and meeting BJP leaders, including party President Amit Shah".

"We served show cause notice to Ratan Lal Nath last month for his closeness with BJP leaders, including Biplab Deb," Tripura state Congress President Birajit Sinha said.

According to Congress sources, Nath may be expelled from the party after the presidential election on 17 July.

In the 60-member Tripura assembly, the CPM-led Left Front has 51 members while the Congress has three, including Ratan Lal Nath, and the TMC six.

Updated Date: Jul 06, 2017 15:19 PM

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