Kolkata: Former Bengal mayor Shobhan Chatterjee is all set to join the BJP, along with his “close friend” Baishakhi Bandyopadhyay.

It is the alleged extramarital affair between Shobhan and Baishakhi that forced Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to ask her favourite mayor to step down. The BJP has now seized the opportunity to rub salt in Mamata’s wounds by inducting the couple into the party.

The BJP has held multiple long meetings with both Shobhan and Baishaki to make sure that they cross over to the other side. 

Also read: What did Shobhan Chatterjee do that cost him twin job of mayor, minister?

The secret meeting

Baishakhi Bandyopadhyay met with the BJP and mid-level RSS members on Monday night and the meeting went till midnight. 

Moreover, the BJP's national executive members were asked to join in on Tuesday to facilitate the process on priority. Arvind Menon, the national executive member and BJP observer in West Bengal, was also rushed to Kolkata on Tuesday to seal the deal. 

Both Menon and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya held a closed-door meeting with Baishakhi. However, the outcome of the meeting is still not known as the politicians are tight-lipped about it. 

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Why BJP insistent on Baishakhi-Shobhan?

Mamata, who was once very fond of minister Shobhan and often used to oversee his administrative failures, had heard rumours about his relationship with Baishakhi. The chief minister herself counseled him several times but her requests fell to deaf ears as he chose to continue with his relationship with Baishakhi. 

Shobhan's father-in-law Dulal Das, who is a TMC heavyweight, used his influence to keep the mayor away from Baishakhi. But also did not work. 

When the cat was out of the bag, Shobhan accused Mamata of spying on him. On November 2018, the chief minister openly insulted the former mayor by saying, “Are you doing your work or busy buying earrings?”. 

After this Shobhan quit as both TMC minister and Kolkata mayor. 

Rebellion is a rare phenomenon in the tightly controlled Trinamool Congress set up, where Mamata’s words are deemed to be the last. Hence, after the infamous exit in November, the relation between the two leaders only soured further. 

Now it is very obvious that poaching the duo will give the BJP an opportunity to embarrass Mamata. It will also allow Shobhan and Baishakhi to express their angst against the Bengal chief minister during campaigning for BJP in the state.

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Role of the duo in BJP

The BJP wants to field both of them aggressively during the upcoming general election. A source in the Bengal BJP, privy to the developments, said that the central leadership wants to use every TMC turncoats during the campaigning. 

Not only Shobhan and Baishakhi, the BJP has the same plan with former cop Bharati Ghosh and another former TMC leader Shanku Deb Panda. 

It is also believed that the BJP will give Baishakhi a ticket and she might be fielded from Kolkata itself.

There was another meeting that was held on Wednesday to discuss the nitty-gritty of the deal. 
Though Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh was not very happy with this decision, BJP leader Mukul Roy ensured that Shobhan and Baishakhi are inducted for 'the larger interest of the party, in the state”. 

The announcement is expected to come next week and the BJP plans to make a big spectacle out of it.

BJP turning into another TMC?

But the hectic parleys by the BJP are widely seen by many, even from within the party, as a move to turn it into another TMC by a different name. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh didn't mince word to criticise Baishakhi. But he had to mend his ways after being reprimanded. 

This is not the first time the BJP has ‘poached’ leaders from the TMC who were involved in alleged cases of corruption or who were individuals with dubious credentials. None less than Mukul Roy is an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam, who was welcomed to BJP.

Bharati Ghosh, once a close confidante of Mamata Banerjee, was welcomed into the party in spite of facing serious corruption charges.

On the very same day of her induction, another youth leader of the TMC, Shanku Panda, a known notorious element, was inducted in the BJP. This has led many to question the BJP, which originally opposed each one of these individuals while they were in or associated with TMC. However, this is not stopping the BJP from going ahead to induct more from the ruling party of Bengal.