Former Meghalaya Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader, Mukul Sangma, is set to join the Trinamool Congress (TMC), party sources confirmed to The Quint.
Along with Sangma, at least 13 other Congress MLAs from the state are also likely to make the switch to the TMC, the ruling party in West Bengal, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"The announcement is expected to be made sometime in the next couple of days, possibly on or after Saturday, 2 October," said a TMC insider privy to the developments.
Speculation regarding Sangma's possible induction to the TMC started about two weeks ago, when a host of leaders from Meghalaya visited Kolkata.
It was reported that Sangma met TMC MP and the party's general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee on 21 September. However, party sources say that the two are yet to have a meeting.
Thereafter, it was reported that Sangma refused the TMC's offer and will launch his own party.
TMC sources, however, confirm that negotiations with Sangma and other Meghalaya leaders took place in Kolkata on 20 and 21 September.
He reportedly met top TMC leaders and poll strategist Prashant Kishor, during that time, says a report by CNN-News18.
Sangma is expected to make the announcement after conducting an internal meeting scheduled for Friday, 1 October.
Meghalaya is going to polls in 2023, and held bypolls in three Assembly constituencies on Thursday, 30 October.
A team from the TMC is expected to reach the state shortly.
Sangma's Conflict With Meghalaya Congress Chief
Local reports in Meghalaya have stated that Sangma was unhappy with the fact that Vincent H Pala, was appointed as the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president without consulting him.
A report by The Hindu says that Sangma was apparently snubbed by the party high command while appointing Pala.
The report further stated that Sangma believed that the party "needed a course correction".
At the time, however, Sangma had said that he'd try to make things work at the Congress.
"I followed my parents to the Congress, have represented the party from Ampati (Assembly constituency in the Garo Hills) and have been associated with building the party. But we must take cognisance of the mistakes and wrongs, and go for course correction," Sangma had told reporters in Shillong on 24 September.
Sangma has four MLAs in the family, including him. His wife Dikkanchi D Shira is an MLA from the Mahendraganj constituency in the state, while his daughter Miani D Shira is an MLA from the family seat of Ampati. His brother, Zenith Sangma is an MLA from the Rangsakona constituency.
Mukul Sangma has been a five-time MLA and Chief Minister of Meghalaya from from 2010 to 2018.
The TMC-Congress Equation
If Sangma joins the TMC, then Meghalaya will be the next state in the party's plan to expand nationally after it set up units in Tripura and Goa. Talks are also on in Assam.
Earlier this week, former Goa Chief Minister and a Congress leader for over 40 years, Luizinho Faleiro, joined the TMC as well. The party also launched its formal campaign for the 2022 Goa elections.
Interestingly, Luizinho Faleiro, who joined the Trinamool on 29 September, was the Congress' general secretary in-charge for Meghalaya before he quit the party.
The TMC, has also in recent times, made public statements against the Congress party.
“The Congress has got frightened. They sometimes manage you (BJP). But you cannot manage Mamata Banerjee," West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee, is quoted to have said during her campaign for the Bhabanipur bypoll.
Earlier, TMC MP and national General Secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, after being interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Delhi for nine hours for his alleged involvement in a coal pilferage case, said that "the TMC will not bow down to the BJP like the Congress".
If Sangma joins TMC, this will be another in a series of high-profile defections from the Congress to the TMC, after Assam leader Sushmita Dev, former West Bengal MP Abhijit Mukherjee, and Faleiro.