Congress leader Kirti Azad, former Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar, and former JD(U) MP Pavan Varma were among the latest to join the party. They were formally inducted into the party in the presence of CM Banerjee in New Delhi.
Azad, who switched from the BJP to the Congress in 2019, was reported to be upset with the Congress leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi. According to sources, Azad believes that the only leader who can give formidable challenge to the Narendra Modi-led BJP is Banerjee.
Meanwhile, Varma joined TMC, saying it was the need of the hour to work for strengthening the Opposition. Varma, along with Prashant Kishor, was expelled from the JD(U) last year after the two stepped up attacks on its alliance partner BJP over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). On the other hand, Tanwar had left the Congress ahead of the 2019 Assembly polls after a bitter political fight with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
In September, former Union Minister of State and BJP MP Babul Supriyo, who was removed as part of a major rejig in the Narendra Modi Council of Ministers in July, joined TMC. He admitted that he was disappointed at what had happened despite his “hard work and good work”.
Earlier in June, former BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy, along with his son and former MLA Subhrangshu, had returned to the TMC. Several local leaders and a handful of MLAs from BJP had switched over to the TMC post the thumping victory of the Mamata Banerjee-led party in the Assembly elections.
Goa appears to be one of the key focus area for TMC. Ahead of Assembly elections, the coastal state is witnessing several leaders joining Banerjee’s team in the past months with former Goa Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro leading the flock. According to TMC sources, along with Faleiro, nine other leaders — Lavoo Mamledar, Yatish Naik, Vijay Vasudev Poi, Mario Pinto De Santana, Anand Naik, Rabindranath Faleiro, Shivdas Sonu Naik, Rajendra Shivaji Kakodkar and Antonio Monteiro Clovis Da Costa had joined the party.
While joining TMC, Faleiro had said, “I am joining TMC to defeat BJP. Goa is suffering under BJP and is in a very bad shape. Goa needs Didi (Mamata Banerjee). We requested her to come to Goa and support Goans to protect their culture and heritage.”
Tennis veteran Leander Paes had joined the TMC in October in presence of Banerjee in Goa. Actor and activist Nafisa Ali also joined the Trinamool Congress at the same event in Goa. “Happy to inform that Leander Paes joins TMC. I am too happy. He is my younger brother. I know him since I was the youth minister and he was very very young,” Banerjee had said while inducting the tennis star.
Meanwhile, Goa Forward Party (GFP) received a jolt on Sunday after its working president Kiran Kandolkar, second only to party chief Vijai Sardesai, joined TMC hours after he tendered his resignation from GFP.
The TMC, latest entrant in the contest for Goa Assembly elections, inducted Kandolkar, his wife Kavita Kandolkar and 40 others, including sarpanches of five villages from Assembly constituencies of Tivim and Aldona in North Goa.
In Uttar Pradesh, two senior Congress leaders had joined TMC in October. The two leaders, Rajeshpati Tripathi and Lalitpati Tripathi, said they would carry on the fight to oust the BJP from power in UP and the Centre under the leadership of Banerjee. Rajeshpati Tripathi is an ex-MLC while Laliteshpati Tripathi is former UP Congress vice-president and an ex-MLA. Rajeshpati and Laliteshpati are the grandson and the great-grandson of former UP chief minister Kamalapati Tripathi, respectively.
In Tripura, around 30 Congress and BJP leaders, including Tripura Youth Congress’ former working president Santanu Saha, had joined the TMC in August.