West Bengal TMC’s heavyweight minister Suvendu Adhikari quits cabinet; another rebel MLA to join BJP
Dealing a heavy blow to the Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee in the run-up to the assembly polls, West Bengal transport minister and heavyweight leader Suvendu Adhikari on Friday afternoon resigned from the state cabinet.
He sent his resignation letter to Banerjee and emailed a copy to governor Jagdeeep Dhankhar at 1.05pm, fanning speculations that the rebel leader may quit the party.
Adhikari, the legislator from Nandigram in East Midnapore district, had resigned from the post of chairman of the Hooghly River Bridge Commission on Thursday night. There were reports that he also resigned from the Haldia Development Authority where he was the chairman.
“I do hereby tender my resignation from my office as Minister. Steps may be taken for its immediate acceptance,” Adhikari wrote to Banerjee.
“I still believe that he will not quit the party. We will try to talk to him,” said TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy who had been holding talks with Adhikari over the past few days.
Senior TMC leaders told HT earlier this month that Adhikari is specifically unhappy with organisational decisions taken by the chief minister’s nephew and Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee and election strategist Prashant Kishor who was roped in after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.
On November 10, Adhikari threw a veiled challenge at the party while addressing a public rally at Nandigram.
“Political observers are waiting for me to announce my political programme. They want to hear me talk about the roadblocks I am facing and the path I am going to take. I will not announce my political programme from this scared platform. This is not the place. I will speak from a political platform,” Adhikari said at the rally. “I am not afraid of anyone. We will meet in the battlefield,” he added without naming anyone or even the TMC.
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that Mihir Goswami, another rebel legislator from Cooch Behar, was on his way to Delhi. He was likely to join the BJP at the BJP headquarters in the presence of the party’s national president JP Nadda on Friday afternoon.
“The days of the Mamata Banerjee government are numbered. Adhikari has dealt a blow to the ruling party,” said BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. He however refused to comment on whether Adhikari was going to join his party.
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- The opposition leader is also scheduled to meet senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim and hold talks about the upcoming Bengal polls.
- TMC and BJP have dismissed the Left rally as insignificant. While the TMC claims CM Mamata Banerjee will return to power for the third time, BJP says the elections are bi-polar and there is no space for the Left.
- The BJP lodged a complaint in the Phoolbagan police station. Senior BJP leaders of the state rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.
- The TMC asked the EC why the polls could not be held in fewer phases.
- She alleged that the poll panel scheduled the election dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.
- The CBI earlier questioned Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the case.
- Besides rallies, the chief minister’s itinerary could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.
- "Modi government only makes false promises, has done nothing to bring down fuel prices," PTI quoted the Bengal chief minister as saying.