In a major blow to the CPI(M), its senior leader and former legislator from Khowai, Biswajit Datta, joined the ruling BJP in Tripura on Friday. Mr. Datta has been staying away from the party affairs after he was dropped from candidature on ‘health grounds’ in the February Assembly elections.The CPI(M) claimed that Mr. Datta was unable to put up a strong fight in Khowai, and thus was removed on the last day of withdrawal of nomination. The party’s second choice, Nirmal Biswas, however, defeated BJP’s Amit Rakshit by a comfortable margin.Mr. Datta, who had to be admitted to hospital in the run-up to Assembly elections over health issues, termed his exclusion fallout of a ‘conspiracy’ hatched by a section of leaders. He claimed that he was fit enough to contest and retain his seat.Mr. Datta joined the BJP at a rally in Khowai in the presence of BJP national secretary Sunil Deodhar .About 100 CPI(M) supporters also switched sides. Mr. Deodhar hinted that several CPI(M) leaders were in touch with him to join the BJP.Earlier, two senior CPI(M) leaders, Jitendra Sarkar and Monaranjan Acharjee, had joined the BJP. A large number of local leaders and local body representatives made their entry into the saffron party.