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For the first time in the history of Tripura, since it was declared a state in 1972, an elected member of the state legislature lost membership under the anti-defection law on Friday.
Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath speaking to Northeast Now said, “After examining and giving time twice today on the basis of complaint by state Congress president Birajit Singh the membership of Ratan Lal Nath has been cancelled under the anti-defection law. Since 22 December 2017 his membership has been cancelled as he officially joined BJP on that day.”
“As far as my memory goes this is the first incident when a MLA of Tripura legislative Assembly has been lost his membership under anti-defection,” he added.
Nath a five-time Congress legislator and longest serving Opposition Leader from the party was seen taking part in various BJP rallies besides voting against the party whip during the last Presidential election.
Recently he joined the BJP officially in presence of NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav.
The Speaker informed that under the Schedule 10 of the Constitution Nath’s memberships has been cancelled.
He said that Nath was served notice twice to meet him and explain his position but on the ground of poor health he refused and requested for time but today in accordance to the prior notice he took ex-parte decision on Nath’s disqualification.
Ratan Lal Nath, however, said the anti-defection law is not applicable on him as Congress had earlier served him notice of disqualification from his primary membership for anti-party activities.
Speaking over phone Nath said, “This is a Tughlaki decision not taken by the Speaker rather by the CPI-M party to satisfy the Congress. It matters nothing to me and I only want to concentrate on the election to oust the ruling CPI-M which has been in power with the support of the Delhi Congress leaders. Now BJP and its leadership are with us and we shall surely come to power this time in Tripura.”
Welcoming the Speaker’s decision, Congress state Vice President Tapas Dey said, “Ratan Lal Nath and other MLAs like him who joined the BJP are opportunists and have no value. But the positive sign is that they could not take with them much of their supporters and the hype that BJP is showing is created by a section of the media.”
Dey added that most of these MLAs who joined BJP from the Congress are now in a dilemma whether they shall get a ticket to contest the coming election as already there are many aspirants within the party.
The 71-year-old Nath held various posts in Congress and since 1993, was elected five times as Congress candidate from the Mohanpur assembly constituency in western Tripura.
With this, the Congress strength in the outgoing assembly has been reduced to just two from the original ten.
The CPI-M led Left Front has 51 members with the CPI-M alone having 50 legislators.