TMC distances itself from Suvendu Adhikari, rebel hits road
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday distanced itself from former minister Suvendu Adhikari by removing him from the party’s employees’ federation, a trade union front where he was the chairman. Adhikari, who headed three important departments, had resigned from the cabinet on Friday.
Without even naming Adhikari, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said during a meeting with the federation members at the state secretariat that education minister Partha Chatterjee, who was chairman of the body in the past, will head it again. Adhikari did not attend any meeting of the federation in recent months.
Adhikari took part in three back-to-back non-political rallies at different locations in East Midnapore district, his home turf, on Thursday and made significant statements without naming anyone. His followers put up posters in the heart of south Kolkata, a stronghold of the TMC, in the morning. “One does not need posts to serve people,” said the posters that bore large images of Adhikari.
“Some people say I do my politics from a comfort zone. Let me remind them that I have always fought for idealism and will continue to do so. I am into people’s struggle and will be in it,” Adhikari said at a programme at Garbeta. TMC leaders, who carefully watched his moves, said it was apparent that Adhikari was organising his people for his next political move. There are speculations that he may join the BJP or form a political outfit of his own with TMC leaders who have grievances against the ruling party.
Adhikari led a huge rally in Contai town to mark the birth anniversary of Khudiram Bose, the first freedom fighter hanged by the British in Bengal. When journalists asked him how would he identify himself, Adhikari said, “I am son of Bengal and son of India.”
“I led people’s struggle at Jangalmahal, Nandigram and Netai,” said Adhikari. This was a significant statement because countering the Maoists at Jangalmahal, an erstwhile Maoist-controlled zone covering parts of three districts bordering Jharkhand, became an important agenda for Mamata Banerjee after coming to power in 2011. Before that, the violent struggle against the CPI(M) at Nandigram (where Adhikari is now the legislator) and Netai helped Banerjee oust the Left Front government.
The TMC faced a crisis on Wednesday afternoon when Adhikari told the leadership that it was not possible for him to work for the party. Adhikari wrote a text message to Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy, saying the problems he was having in the TMC were far from over.
This happened barely 14 hours after the TMC informed the media that Adhikari told top leaders at a discreetly held meeting on Tuesday evening that he would not leave the party. Adhikari even talked to the chief minister over phone in the middle of that meeting. Abhishek Banerjee, the chief minister’s nephew, and election strategist Prashant Kishor attended the meeting and held most of the discussion since Adhikari is unhappy with several decisions taken by them, said TMC leaders.
Roy replied to Adhikari’s text message late on Wednesday night. TMC leaders aware of the development said the essence of Roy’s message is that the party informed the media about what happened at Tuesday’s meeting and the fact that Adhikari had agreed to the decisions. The rebel leader was also told in the message that if he changes his stand then it is his entirely his business.
“The party will not make any public statement on Adhikari anymore,” Roy said on Thursday.
Asked whether the TMC would suffer a big loss prior to the polls if Adhikari joined the BJP, Roy said, “TMC is a big party. It does not make much difference if one or two leaders leave. Mukul Roy (now a BJP national vice-president) had left too. The party will face the elections under Banerjee’s leadership.”
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- Earlier this month on January 11, the protestors had tried to march towards Nabanna, the state secretariat, leading to a scuffle with the police.
- Adhikari’s statement came days after the BJP ran into a major controversy when some supporters raised the “Jai Sri Ram” slogan during PM Modi’s event in Kolkata.
- The rallies of the Left parties started after the government's official programmes on the occasion of Republic Day.
- The sharing of the remaining 217 seats will be concluded by January 31, said Pradip Bhattacharya, senior Congress leader.
- Reacting to Banerjee’s statement, the BJP said it was a diversionary tactic on the eve of the assembly polls due in March-April.
- The police have started a manhunt for the person who was funding the operation.