Kolkata, Oct 3 Plagued by defections and a weak organisation, the Congress is staring at "political extinction" in West Bengal, even as CPI(M) claims that "such poachings have never happened before" in the state.
The two opposition parties have come down heavily on the rulling Trinamool Congress for "poaching into the opposition turf and taking away its legislators".
After the last Assembly elections which gave a thumping majority to the Trinamool Congress, the party managed to take over almost all the Opposition-controlled municipalities and panchayats in the state, with Councillors and Panchayat members shifting to the TMC-fold from either Congress or Left Front constituents.
Since May 2016, five MLAs of Congress, including former PCC President Manas Bhunia and one from CPI(M) have switched over to TMC, bringing down the Opposition tally from 76 to 70 in the 294-member House.
"Several MLAs of Congress and Left Front are in touch with us. They want to join TMC and become part of this grand development that is going on under the stewardship of Mamata Banerjee," TMC Vice President Mukul Roy told PTI.
However, none of the defected MLAs had officially resigned from their posts which would have necessitated a bypoll.
The Congress and CPI(M) had alleged that TMC was blocking flow of funds to Opposition-ruled municipalities and using money and muscle power along with police administration to poach into Opposition turf and take away its legislators.
The TMC which had won 211 MLAs in the last Assembly election and now has the support of six defected MLAs, claimed that it had not invited anybody to join their fold.
"The TMC wants to wipe out every sign of opposition from the state. It is for the first time that Congress is staring at political extinction in Bengal. We have been in opposition since 1977 but never did the CPI(M) try to poach on our MLAs or councillors. This is a new trend that TMC has started since coming to power in 2011," a senior Congress leader told PTI.
Rabin Deb, state secretariat member of CPI(M), said "such things have never happened before".
Ironically, BJP which has three MLAs and few Panchayat members in the state has remained unscathed from this trend of defection and poaching.