TMC MP Apurupa Poddar and her husband meet Mamata Banerjee amidst speculations of a possible switch

News Desk: Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Apurupa Poddar from Arambag in Hooghly district along with her husband, Shakir Ali, met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday amidst growing speculations that the couple had been in touch with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the principal opponent to the TMC.

Shakir Ali has been a TMC councillor in the past and known to be active in ground politics. Sources close to Shakir claim that he is “upset with TMC” ever since the party decided to restructure the organisation in Hooghly district under strategist Prashant Kishore. The couple on record has however dismissed all speculations and swore by their allegiance to TMC.

“The speculations are wrong. In Bengal, there is only one force and her name is Mamata Banerjee. This is a very routine meeting with the CM concerning the development work for the people. I believe in one ideology that during the time of war we should not move away. I believe in the ideology of Mamata Banerjee,” said Apurupa Poddar

Sources close to the Chief Minister claimed that Banerjee had learnt about the alleged ‘covert engagement’ between BJP and Apurupa Poddar and thus she had personally intervened. Sources say CM Banerjee had pulled up the couple and shared facts that prove an alleged “deal in the making” between the couple and BJP.

She, as per the sources, had even lashed out at them and warned them of being opportunistic at this critical juncture. While the party has not issued any statement but the meeting between the CM and the Poddar family is not a usual one that generally happens at the state secretariat.

“Didi has clearly told them that she will not buckle down before any bargaining tactics and the interest of the party will not be compromised for personal interests of individual leaders. She has advised them to not take a decision for which they might have to regret in the future. Didi knows everything and the couple thus, will now think twice before furthering any of their ulterior motives. We hope they understand the core values of TMC,” said a TMC leader on condition of anonymity, who is privy to the conversation between the CM and Apurapa Poddar.

The meeting lasted for over 30 minutes and the Poddar couple left the secretariat avoiding media glare. Sources say Shakir Ali has been in touch with senior BJP leaders and had been mulling over a major political switch. He, according to the source, had even guaranteed commitment on behalf of Apurupa. TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari joined BJP on December 19, opening floodgates of several defections that followed thereafter.

Hooghly district has seen a major saffron surge since 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “I came to wish the CM for the new year. I have never said that I am joining BJP so these speculations are all wrong,” said Shakir Ali. Is it only smoke then without a fire?

Sensing trouble with the fear of further defection looming large over TMC, Mamata Banerjee has assigned her close confidante and cabinet minister Firhad Hakim to oversee Hooghly district along with Howrah, Malda and Murshidabad, all sensitive districts and significant for TMC’s electoral gains in a close contest battle for West Bengal 2021 Assembly polls.