In a major jolt to the Congress, 12 out of its 16 MLAs have joined the Trinamool (TMC) in Meghalaya.

Former Meghalaya chief minister and Congress leader Mukul Sangma left the party with 11 MLAs and joined the Trinamool Congress on Thursday. As a result, the number of Congress MLAs in Meghalaya was reduced from 18 to 6. The Trinamool emerged as the main opposition party in Meghalaya.

There has been speculation for a few days that Mukul may join the grassroots along with several MLAs. The speculation ended on Thursday with the former Meghalaya Chief Minister officially joining the Trinamool with 11 MLAs. Mukul gave several reasons why he left the Congress and one of them is that Congress has failed to function as an opposition party in the state.

Mukul was the Chief Minister of Meghalaya from 2010 to 2016. According to local sources, Vincent Pala, a Lok Sabha MP known as the leader of Mukul’s opposition group, was appointed president of the Meghalaya Provincial Congress a month-and-a-half ago. From then on, Mukul started growing distance from the team.

Prashant Kishore, the party’s electoral strategist, has also played a big role in expanding the grassroots power in Meghalaya. Because the former Chief Minister has a good relationship with him. On the other hand, Sangma visited Kolkata a few days ago. At that time, he reportedly met several top grassroots leaders. It is learned that Kishore had a big role in this meeting.

However, a few days ago, Sangma dismissed the rumours of his change of party. However, sources said that the distance between him and the Congress has been growing for some time now.

Congress leader Kirti Azad and former Haryana Congress leader Ashok Tanwar have joined the Trinamool Congress. According to TMC sources, this leader from Haryana will play a role in further breaking up the Congress in the future. Tanwar was the president of the Youth Congress, his network in different states is very good.

In Tripura, leaders like Sushmita Dev have left the Congress. TMC is also increasing its power in Goa. Moreover, leaders like Kirti Azad have joined the grassroots camp. Even if it is broken, the Congress does not want to sprain.

On the same day, Congress leader Casey Benugopal said that some leaders are being taken by the grassroots, but they do not care about such a drama. He said that this could not weaken the Congress. In his words, “We are not bothered about this. If someone takes people from our party, it doesn’t matter. If anyone thinks that in one day, they can destroy the Congress, that is not going to happen. Many have tried this before.”

Though Mamata Banerjee has good relations with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, the Trinamool Congress has started making its mark in national-level politics after the West Bengal Assembly elections. Congress is angry because most of its leaders have joined the grassroots. From former Goa chief minister Luisinho Faleirio to Abhijit Mukherjee or Sushmita Dev, everyone was famous face of the Congress.

Mamata Banerjee has said that she will support Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, not the Congress, in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections. “If the grassroots can help defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, we will go… If Akhilesh (Yadav) wants our help, I will. But I think in some places local teams should be given a chance to fight. If we are told to go preaching, we will go.”

The West Bengal CM became angry when asked if Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a meeting with her during her visit to Delhi. She said that there is no obligation to have a meeting with Sonia Gandhi when she is in Delhi. Moreover, the Congress leadership is now busy with the Punjab vote, she said.