Suvendu Adhikari has already resigned as West Bengal transport minister and from other posts and has been distancing himself from the party for several months now.
Disgruntled Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari resigned from the membership of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on Wednesday amid indications that he would join the BJP during Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state on December 19-20. Adhikari, who was MLA from Nandigram, submitted his handwritten resignation to Speaker of the Assembly Biman Banerjee.
Adhikari has already resigned as West Bengal transport minister and from other posts and has been distancing himself from the party for several months now. The party had then rushed poll strategist Prashant Kishor and senior leader Sougata Roy to placate him but the negotiation failed.
“As of now it is expected that Adhikari will join the BJP at the (East Midnapore) rally,” said a BJP source. However, sources also said that Adhikari had earlier gone back on two dates of joining that he had committed to the party leadership.
On Tuesday, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya called up Adhikari to wish him on his birthday, further fuelling speculation. BJP sources said Adhikari, an influential leader with a mass base, could influence votes in at least 40 Assembly constituencies in six districts.
In a fresh attack on Tuesday, Adhikari further distanced himself from the TMC leadership and said “people coming from other states can’t be treated as outsiders”. He was referring to the “insider-outsider” debate triggered by the TMC leadership to counter the BJP in the Assembly polls due next year.
The TMC has often criticised the BJP for sending its leaders from other states to gear up for the Assembly polls. “Our identity is first that of an Indian and then that of a Bengali,” Adhikari said.
Trinamool leaders said Adhikari started distancing himself from the party on account of the rise of Abhishek Banerjee, party MP and Mamata’s nephew. Abhishek has been given more responsibilities in party management, which has reportedly upset Adhikari who had scripted the party’s growth in several districts.
Suvendu’s rise began after Mamata’s Nandigram movement in Purba Medinipur in 2007, which he closely coordinated on the ground. The Nandigram agitation played a powerful role in ending the Left Front’s 34-year-rule in the Assembly election of 2011. Mamata was impressed, and over the years that followed, she gave respect and importance to Suvendu and his family, and rewarded them for their dedication to the TMC.
Suvendu rapidly strengthened the organisation of the party and increased his own clout beyond Purba Medinipur. He came to have significant influence in the three districts of Jangalmahal — Bankura, Purulia, and Paschim Medinipur — apart from his home turf of Purba Medinipur. These four districts together have nine Lok Sabha and 63 Assembly seats, and Suvendu is believed to be in a position to influence election outcomes in 20-30 of them.
Mamata entrusted Suvendu with the responsibility of being the TMC’s observer in many parts of the state, primarily in Jangalmahal, Malda, and Murshidabad. He is influential in the party’s organisation in South Bengal, especially in the Haldia port area, and among the trade unions in the Haldia industrial area.