In a severe jolt to BJP in West Bengal it lost control of Bhatpara municipality to arch rival Trinamool Congress on Wednesday after 12 councillors quit it to rejoin the ruling party in the state.
With TMC now regaining majority in Bhatpara municipality, BJP has lost control over all the seven municipal bodies it had taken control of since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The development is politically significant as Bhatpara was the first civic body in the state to be annexed by BJP since Independence.
A senior TMC minister said the 12 councillors, who had joined BJP after the Lok Sabha polls, have rejoined their parent party.
Around 19 TMC councillors in the 35 member strong municipality had switched over to BJP after the saffron camp's stupendous performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Later on few others too had joined taking BJP's strength in the civic body to 26 in the 34-memeber board in June.
On Wednesday out of 26 turncoats who had joined BJP, 12 returned to TMC at the Trinamool Bhawan here in the presence of senior party leaders Firhad Hakim and Jyotipriyo Mullick.
"With 12 of our councillors returning to the party, our strength in Bhatpara municipality has gone up to 21 in the 34-member municipality. So now we are in control. We will soon bring a no confidence motion and take control of the municipality," Mullick, also the North 24 Parganas district president of TMC, said.
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy, who had played a key role in the defections, accused TMC of using political and administrative powers to force the councillors to rejoin it.
After the councillors joined BJP they are being threatened by police and goons. The TMC is now forcing them to rejoin it. The same has been done in other municipal bodies too, he said.
Roy, who was earlier the second in command in TMC, expressed confidence that BJP will win the next years civic polls at Bhatpara.
The BJP had formed the board in Bhatpara municipality in North 24 Parganas district after winning the trust vote in June. Sourav Singh, the nephew of Barrackpore Lok Sabha lawmaker Arjun Singh, was elected its new chairman.
Arjun Singh, a former four-time TMC assembly member, was the chairman of Bhatpara municipality since 2010 till April this year. He had then joined BJP and wrested the Barrackpore Lok Sabha from his old party by defeating TMC's Dinesh Trivedi.
"I have heard 12 councillors have joined TMC. Lets see what happens," Singh said.
In the past two months all the seven municipal bodies have returned to the TMC's control.