New Delhi: In a setback for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool Congress MP Saumitra Khan on Wednesday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, citing lack of democracy in the state.
Khan, whose induction in the saffron party was announced at a press conference here following his meeting with BJP President Amit Shah, also took potshots at Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool's virtual second-in-command Abhishek Banerjee by saying "Bengal is being ruled by a party of aunt and nephew".
The Trinamool promptly responded by expelling Khan and another Lok Sabha member Anupam Hazra for "anti-party activities".
Crossing over to the BJP in the presence of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and West Bengal BJP leader Mukul Roy, Khan accused Trinamool Congress of "snatching people's voting rights".
"There is no democracy in Bengal. I have repeatedly told the party that we should respect common people but that did not happen. Election is going on in the entire country, but not a single bomb has exploded anywhere (outside Bengal). They (Trinamool) are snatching people's voting rights and doling out the funds received from the central government. West Bengal cannot be run in this way," the former Trinamool leader claimed.
"The condition of farmers in Bengal is very bad. It is a matter of shame that Bengal's youths are forced to pay cash for getting jobs. I joined BJP today because it is working for everyone's development under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The way Amit Shah is leading the party, I am hopeful that a new sun will rise in Bengal soon," he said.
Going ballistic, the 38-year-old leader alleged that oiling someone's palm is the best way of doing politics under Trinamool's rule and urged the youth of the state to come out in the streets and work for the betterment of common people.
Khan, who won the Kotulpur seat in Bankura district on a Congress ticket in 2011, switched allegiance to Trinamool in late 2013. The next year he contested and won from Bishnupur Lok Sabha seat on a Trinamool ticket.
Taking a swipe at Mamata Banerjee and her nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee, Khan wondered why a certain family from south Kolkata will rule Bengal.
"Bengal is being ruled by a party of aunt and nephew. It should not be the case that one family from south Kolkata should hold sway in Bengal. A handful of leaders from south Kolkata are enjoying all the power there. Not them, but the people of Bengal should have the power," he said.
"Who is Abhishek Banerjee to decide whether I would get ticket in the 2019 elections from the party? I am a people's representative. People will decide if I am eligible or not. I could not support the 'police-raj' that is going on in Bengal. That's why I have joined BJP," he said.
Responding to his comments, Abhishek Banerjee claimed Khan had won the elections by the grace of Mamata Banerjee and challenged BJP to field him as a candidate in the coming polls and ensure his victory.
"If he had so many problems with the party, he could have left earlier. Khan had won in 2011 and 2014 elections by the grace of Mamata Banerjee. I challenge him to share the details of his MP fund with common people. Let see how much work has he done as an MP.
"He has a big mouth. We will ensure that he doesn't enter a polling booth in future," he added.