KOLKATA: Former Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma and 11 other Congress MLAs are joining Trinamool Congress, party sources claimed late on Wednesday to raise the possibility of Mamata Banerjee's party becoming the principal opposition in the northeastern state. A formal announcement on Sangma's move, which had been on the cards since September, is likely on Thursday. Congress has 18 MLAs in the 60-member assembly and Sangma, a five-time MLA, is currently the leader of the opposition there.
Sangma's possible exit has been the subject of speculation ever since Congress appointed Shillong MP Vincent H Pala as the party's state president. Sangma didn't give away much but his meetings with TMC strategist Prashant Kishor, general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and TMC Rajya Sabha member Sushmita Dev fuelled talk of the defection being just a formality.
Meanwhile, Congress said its leaders crossing over to TMC was "drama" and that the party can't be weakened. Organisation general secretary K C Venugopal said attempts to weaken Congress had been launched earlier too but didn't succeed. Former MP Kirti Azad and Haryana leader Ashok Tanwar were among the few to join TMC on Tuesday.