A week after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah visited a couple's home in West Bengal's Naxalbari, and had lunch with them, the duo has joined the state's ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). The couple, identified as Geeta and Raju Mahali, were welcomed as TMC members by state tourism minister Gautam Deb.
Shah, who is criss-crossing West Bengal as part of a 15-day 'Vistaar Yatra' (expansion tour), had stopped by at the Mahalis' residence on 25 April and ate a meal with them. But according to a report in Hindustan Times, they became members of the state's ruling dispensation less than a week later. The report also said Raju is a daily labourer who assists building painters, and his wife works in a tea garden. They were briefly the most famous tribal couple in the state, after Shah stopped by their hut.
However, there have already been insinuations of foul play.
BJP's state president Dilip Ghosh was quoted in the same report as saying that the couple was kidnapped and forced to join BJP. By means of substantiation, he said their "body language" when in the TMC office indicated they were under pressure. "They were sitting with their heads down and looking at the ground," Ghosh was quoted as saying.
This allegation was quickly denied by the TMC. Speaking to NDTV, Deb said they joined the party of their own free will. Geeta was also quoted saying so in the report. "We were not threatened, offered money or anything. We like Mamata Banerjee and so we have joined Trinamool," Geeta said. When she was asked if she would serve a meal to Banerjee like she did to Shah, she said, "Yes, why not. If she comes here."
Rumours about the couple being kidnapped had started on Tuesday, after they were missing for a few hours.
But it turned out that they had taken shelter at a Trinamool worker's house, to ensure the BJP could not access them, the NDTV report added.
Updated Date: May 03, 2017 14:00 PM