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Former Kolkata Mayor and TMC MLA Sovan Chatterjee, Mama Banerjee's top aide, joins BJP

Kolkata: In recent months of speculation, former Kolkata Mayor Sowan Chatterjee and his close friend Baisaki Banerjee joined the BJP at the party's headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday.

Before joining, the two met with BJP leaders Arvind Menon and Mukul Roy. While Sowan is a KLA member of the constituency of the Behala Assembly, Baisaki was a former TMF leader and headed his own education cell.

Interestingly, actress-cum-TMC leader Debashri Roy was also present at the BJP headquarters but was not seen on the daisies, even when Chatterjee and Banerjee were officially involved in the party.

"I am happy to join the BJP because I believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision and Amit Shah's determination to make a strong India," Chatterjee said.

In November last year, Chatterjee, once a close associate of Chief West Bengal Chief Minister Mama Banerjee, resigned as Kolkata mayor because of alleged differences with her.

It was learned that Banerjee was dissatisfied with his lack of day-to-day administrative and civic responsibilities over the last year due to his divorce battle with wife Ratna. At an event organized by the Colta fire department last year, the chief minister went down to Sovan.

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) have repeatedly questioned Chatterjee about the Narada fraud. The mayor of Kolkata was reportedly shown in the bar receiving money from a businessman and then wrapping the case in a towel.

Last June, Chatterjee, whose proposed development plans for wetlands in East Kolkata were criticized by environmentalists, was removed from the environment ministry.

Welcoming Chatterjee, Roy said he is one of those leaders who has made a major contribution to boosting Banerjee as chief minister. "He will now boost the BJP … Let me repeat that the TMF will not even gain the status of an opposition party," Roy said.

Six TMC MLAs, and one Congress and CPI (M) have switched to the BJP after the results of the Lok Sabha election were announced in May, with the saffron party bothering rival party leaders to boost its strength in the period. until the next Parliamentary polls in the country to be held in 2021.

The BJP has made deep guidance in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha polls, winning 18 of the 42 seats in Lok Sabha, just four less than the TMF.

Known for his organizational skills and ability to manage finances, Chatterjee was at the forefront of TMF and was a trusted Banerjee lieutenant. He has been an adviser to Kolkata Municipal Corporation for three decades, twice serving as mayor of Kolkata, despite being a minister before leaving on Saturday, 2018.

According to old TMF timers, Banerjee played a key role in shaping his political career, starting as an activist for the Youth Congress. Banerjee publicly called him with his pet Canon.

Sitting beside top BJP leaders in New Delhi at the party's headquarters on Wednesday, Chatterjee criticized the "violence and undemocratic atmosphere" in which the country's 2018 panchayat polls were conducted.

Chatterjee: TMF will be banished

Congressman Trinamol, who defended Chatterjee, said they would expel him from the party, according to sources.

The TMF claims that since the FBI and the Enforcement Directorate launched an investigation into their fraudulent Narada and Sarada leaders, some party leaders are desperate to reach the BJP to be rescued.

According to a senior TMF leader, they tried to return Chatterjee to the party, which last year took a sabbatical from active politics for personal reasons.

"He will be expelled from TMK. The party has yet to make a final announcement, "a senior TMF leader said on condition of anonymity.

"We never thought that Sowan would finally join the BJP. It is true that the BJP leaders were in contact with him, but we never believed he could betray Mum Banerjee, whom he described earlier as "maa" (mother), "a senior TMF leader said.

"His affiliation will have an impact on the TMF's organization in the South 24 Paraganas area and also on next year's Kolgata municipal corporation elections. The party missed its political and organizational acumen during the Lok Sabha elections, "another TMF leader said.

(With PTI inputs)

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