Suvendu Adhikari last week exited from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet fuelling speculation that he was on his way to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Suvendu Adhikari last week exited from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet fuelling speculation that he was on his way to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.(HT FILE PHOTO)

TMC staves off crisis, says rebel leader Suvendu Adhikari not leaving party

Suvendu Adhikari had been maintaining a distance from the TMC for more than two months and had resigned as minister last week.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Kolkata
UPDATED ON DEC 02, 2020 12:38 AM IST

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Tuesday night avoided a major crisis before the crucial assembly polls when its heavyweight leader Suvendu Adhikari told top leaders at a discreetly held meeting that he will not leave the party.

Adhikari had been maintaining a distance from the TMC for more than two months. He stopped attending office, triggering rumours that he might join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Going a step further, he resigned from the cabinet on Friday. He was in charge of three important departments, including transport.

The most significant part of Tuesday’s meeting, held at an undisclosed location in north Kolkata, is that the chief minister’s nephew and Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee and election strategist Prashant kishor were present at the meeting along with two senior Lok Sabha members, Saugata Roy and Sudip Bandopadhyay.

Senior TMC leaders told HT last month that Adhikari was unhappy with organizational decisions taken by Abhishek Banerjee and Kishor, who was roped in after the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. Adhikari and Banerjee even took potshots at each other without taking names at recent public meetings.

Significantly, senior TMC leaders said that Adhikari, who was earlier appointed election observer for several districts, including Murshidabad, had demanded that people of his choice be fielded next year from around 65 assembly seats. The leadership did not accept this.

“The talks went extremely well. Suvendu said he is very much in the party. I invited Abhishek Banerjee and Adhikari to sit for talks. Adhikari will make his position public. I had been saying all along that he would not leave the TMC,” said Roy after the two-hour talks. “I informed the chief minister what emerged at the meeting,” Roy told HT.

Roy and Bandopadhyay had been holding talks with Adhikari over the past two weeks under instructions from Mamata Banerjee.

On Friday, the disgruntled legislator from Nandigram in East Midnapore district dealt a blow to the TMC and Mamata Banerjee by resigning from the state cabinet. He also quit the Haldia Development Authority and the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners. He was chairman of both the bodies.

“This is a good development. What was happening was not good for the party,” said Adhikari’s father and the TMC’s seniormost Lok Sabha member Sisir Adhikari. The former minister’s elder brother is also a Lok Sabha member from East Midnapore.

“The TMC has shown great maturity by dealing with the crisis through talks,” said Kolkata-based political science professor Udayan Bandopadhyay.

The BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh described the developments as the TMC’s internal matter.

“This is an internal matter of the TMC. A lot of leaders from the TMC have joined us. Many more will come in the future,” Ghosh told a local news channel.

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