A Trinamool Congress legislator on Sunday threatened to not support any bill tabled by the government in the West Bengal Assembly in the future and abstain from voting in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in the state if 'atrocities' on his loyalists allegedly by a rival faction continued, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party said the collapse of the Mamata Banerjee government was just a matter of time.
Islampur MLA Abdul Karim Chowdhury made the remark after visiting several blocks in Islampur sub-division of Uttar Dinajpur district where his loyalists had contested the recently concluded panchayat polls as Independent candidates and had allegedly been beaten up by supporters of a rival faction after results were declared on July 11.
"If a faction in my party goes on committing atrocities against common people, many of whom are my loyalists; if beatings and arson go on unabated without any interference by party higher-ups, I will be forced to abstain from voting in the Rajya Sabha polls," he said.
"I will also not support any bill tabled by the state government in the assembly in the future. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has failed to take note of the worsening situation in Islampur despite my repeated appeals to her. I will start opposing this government if there is no improvement in the situation, if my words are not heeded," Chowdhury said.
Reacting to Chowdhury's outburst, TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "He should not have spoken in such a defiant manner against the party in public. All I can say is that the leadership will take a call on the issue."
Chowdhury has been at loggerheads with district TMC president Kanaialal Agarwal for a long time.
The Islampur MLA had alleged that he was being overlooked by the party regarding policy decision-making, and that he could not meet party national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee during his outreach programme in North Bengal three months back.
The TMC has announced candidates for six Rajya Sabha seats in West Bengal which will go to polls on July 24.
The TMC has 216 MLAs in the 294-member assembly and enjoys the support of five BJP legislators who switched over to the ruling party in the state but are yet to resign from the House.
The BJP has a strength of 70 in the assembly.
Meanwhile, speaking at a party programme in his Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency in North 24 Parganas district, BJP MP Shantanu Thakur said the TMC government will not last beyond five months.
"I have a hunch that this government will not last beyond five months," he said.
"The Mamata Banerjee government has outlived its utility. Had the TMC not resorted to widespread rigging in the recently concluded panchayat polls, the BJP would have bagged thousands of more seats.
"But this is going to be the last election under the supervision of TMC government where all the state machineries including the State Election Commission (SEC) have failed to play a neutral and impartial role," Thakur, who is also the Union Minister of State for Shipping, said.
Police sources said 39 people have died in panchayat poll-related violence since the election date was announced on June 8. A majority of those who lost their lives were affiliated with the TMC.
Talking to reporters after attending an organisational meeting to take stock of the party's panchayat poll performance, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said, "Anything can happen any time. Let's see what happens."
He added, "Who knows if there's a people's uprising against TMC's misrule and terror. Who knows if TMC MLAs suddenly refuse to follow Mamata Banerjee's way of functioning. I am not saying it will happen, it may not. But anything is possible in politics."
About his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on July 14, Majumdar said, "The Centre will do everything possible to protect the lives of innocent people in West Bengal."
Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari had earlier demanded imposition of Article 355 in West Bengal saying central intervention has become imperative in the state which had witnessed violence during panchayat polls.
He said, "Though a democratically elected government cannot be toppled, if it fails to perform its duty as envisaged in the Constitution, the Centre has to intervene to save it from slipping into lawlessness."
Reacting to the comments of BJP leaders, TMC Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson Santanu Sen said, "All these BJP leaders, including Adhikari, are desperate to raise their ratings in Delhi by issuing threats to a government which came to power for the third time through a huge mandate two years ago and enjoys mass support."
He added, 'if out of desperation the BJP tries any misadventure' after the drubbing in panchayat polls, the people of state will thwart it.
Sen said BJP leaders like Adhikari and Ghosh had made similar predictions about the collapse of TMC government in December and January and 'even spelt out specific dates', but nothing happened.
TMC state general secretary and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said BJP leaders are making such claims 'to boost the morale of their rank and file', who had been demoralised after the panchayat poll results.
"They (BJP leaders) are themselves aware about the absurdity of their claims," he added.