Agartala: Congress on Tuesday faced another crisis in the north east with six dissident MLAs in Tripura quitting the party and joining the Trinamool Congress, which will now become the main opposition party in the Left-ruled state.
Tripura is the fourth north eastern state after Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya where Congress has been hit by dissidence.
The six rebel Congress MLAs led by former Leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy Burman, submitted a letter to Tripura Assembly Speaker Ramendra Debnath saying they are quitting the party and joining the Trinamool Congress. Of the six dissident MLAs, Burman, Biswabandhu Sen, Diba Chandra Hrankhawl and Asish Saha were present when the letter signed by the MLAs was handed over to the Speaker.
Two other MLAs -- Dilip Sarkar and Pranajit Sinha Roy -- were not present on the ground that they were unwell but spoke to the Speaker over phone, official sources said.
Confirming that he has received the letter, Tripura Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath said, "It was signed by six Congress MLAs informing me that they have joined the Trinamool Congress."
The Speaker that he would review their plea. Burman has been elected leader of the TMC legislature group in Tripura and is expected to stake claim to the post of the Leader of the Opposition.
This brings the Congress' tally in the 60-member Tripura assembly to three from 10. State Congress president Birajit Sinha and two other MLAs remain with Congress.
In the 60- member House, the Left Front has 50 seats. Assembly elections will be held in Tripura in 2018.
Another dissident Congress MLA Jiten Sarkar, who has resigned from the Assembly, has expressed willingness to join ruling CPI(M), according to CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar. Dhar said that Sarkar is a former member of CPI(M) who had won Assembly elections five times on CPI(M) ticket and was Speaker of the Assembly for nine years. He would be taken back in CPI(M), he said.
The Congress rebels said they have resigned over the party's decision to partner with the Left in the West Bengal elections, that saw Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Conference defeat the alliance with a big decisive win.
A combative Burman, who was the Congress' chief ministerial candidate in the last elections, said, "Our objective in joining the Trinamool is to defeat this corrupt, anti-people government of the Left."
Burman had earlier resigned from the post of the Leader of the Opposition in protest against the Congress-Left tie-up before the West Bengal Assembly elections. Still reeling from the loss of Assam, a state it had ruled for 15 years under the stewardship of Tarun Gogoi, to the BJP last month, Congress faced rebellion in its ranks in Meghalaya, where it rules with a razor thin majority and the help of allies.
In Arunachal, Kalikho Pul became the Chief Minister with the support of BJP in February this year after quitting the Congress along with 19 rebel party MLAs in the 60-member house.
BJP with 11 MLAs and two independents backed him. Pradyot Deb Barma, former Tripura Congress chief termed the resignations as "politics of opportunism," and is confident that the Trinamool will not benefit from his party's loss.