In a setback for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a tribal couple in Naxalbari who served lunch to Amit Shah in their house during his visit to West Bengal recently, joined the ruling Trinamool Congress on Wednesday. News reports said that the couple – Raju and Gita Mahali – registered themselves at the party’s block office on Wednesday. Indian Express Online reported that the couple was welcomed into the party by Tourism Minister Gautam Deb. Shah’s halt at Mahalis’ residence made headlines as the BJP president sat on the floor and was served lunch on a banana leaf. However, the latest reports have not gone down well with the BJP. The party has now alleged the ruling TMC of forcing the couple to join the party.
Giving his reaction today, party spokesman and Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad said, “Amit Shah had gone to Naxalbari, he had a lunch with tribal family of Raju and Gita Mahali. Yesterday, some of the TMC workers abducted the couple. Our unit tried to register a case with Siluguri police. Today, we have received the news that the couple came back in the morning and declared itself as supporter of Trinamool Congress. This is a matter of grave concern”.
Watch | Press Conference by Ravi Shankar Prasad at BJP Central Office
Earlier in the day, BJP’s West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh had also made similar allegations, “The couple was kidnapped and forced to join the Trinamool,” he reportedly said, adding that their body language was indicative that the Trinamool Congress had forced them into joining the party.
Gita Mahali, however, denied they were forced into joining the party. “We were not threatened, offered money or anything. We like Mamata Banerjee and so we have joined Trinamool,” she reportedly said, according to NDTV.