Presidential Election 2017: Six TMC MLAs in Tripura may defy party whip, vote for Ram Nath Kovind

Agartala: Six Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislators in Tripura are likely to cast votes in favour of NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the 17 July presidential poll, a party leader said on Sunday.

"We have held a meeting here on Saturday night and decided not to cast our votes in favour of Congress-led opposition-backed presidential candidate Meira Kumar since she is also supported by the CPI(M)," Tripura TMC President Ashish Saha told IANS here.

"Since there is no candidate other than Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar, we might support the BJP-led NDA candidate. The picture would be clear within the next few days," he said.

Saha, one of the six TMC legislators, said that "it is final that all the six party legislators in Tripura would not cast their votes in favour of CPI(M) supported nominee".

File image of Ram Nath Kovind.

File image of Ram Nath Kovind.

The TMC, led by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, is officially supporting opposition-backed contender Meira Kumar, the former Lok Sabha Speaker.

There are media reports that BJP general secretary Ram Madhav and Assam's powerful BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), have urged the TMC legislators in Tripura to vote for Kovind.

According to media reports, all the six TMC legislators are likely to join the BJP in July.

Saha said: "It was not yet decided that the TMC MLAs would join BJP. We want a united fight in 2018 assembly elections in Tripura to oust the CPI(M)-led Left Front government from power."

"We might do any sacrifice to vote out the Left parties in the next assembly polls," he added.

Last week, BJP's Tripura unit president Biplab Kumar Deb said that the party's doors are shut for the nine TMC and Congress legislators.

Deb had told reporters: "In consultation with the party's central leaders, we had earlier announced a deadline of 31 May for the entry of the nine TMC and Congress MLAs into BJP. That deadline being over, the doors are also accordingly shut for them."

"It is, however, open for other leaders and workers of the TMC, Congress and other parties but not for the nine sitting MLAs," he added.

Six Congress MLAs, led by Sudip Roy Barman, resigned from the party in 2016 and have joined the TMC in protest against the Congress' electoral alliance with the Left parties in the West Bengal assembly elections.

Another Congress legislator, Jitendra Sarkar, resigned from the Tripura assembly and re-joined the ruling CPI(M), reducing the Congress' strength in the state assembly to three. Sarkar joined BJP last month.

The TMC's Tripura unit former president and former minister and also the former president of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee, Surajit Datta, party's Tripura unit coordination committee chief Ratan Chakraborty, TMC's Tripura unit's founder-chairman and incumbent vice-president Arun Chandra Bhowmik and many other state committee members had joined the BJP in the past few months.

Besides, several thousand workers from the Congress, TMC and CPI-M also walked over to the BJP, making it the main opposition party in Tripura. The state goes to elect a new assembly in about eight months.

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

"We have served a show cause notice to Ratanlal Nath in May for his closeness with BJP leaders, including Biplab Deb," Tripura state Congress president Birajit Sinha said.

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

Updated Date: Jul 02, 2017 17:19 PM

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