Hours after rebel Trinamool Congress (TMC) lawmaker Suvendu Adhikari told the leadership that it is not possible for him to work for the party, Silbhadra Dutta, the legislator from Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district, fanned speculations on Wednesday afternoon with an intriguing one-liner posted on Facebook.
“Bondhu dekha hobe…..” (we will meet my friend), Dutta wrote in bold Bengali script, keeping the sentence incomplete and using a saffron template as background.
Since Dutta recently became vocal against I-Pac, the company owned by election strategist Prashant Kishor, and declared that he will not contest the assembly polls due early next year, his post immediately drew attention. Most of Dutta’s followers on social media concluded that he would join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said he had taken the right decision. There was not a single adverse reaction on his post till 6.45 pm.
Dutta could not be contacted. TMC district president and food and supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said, “He is aggrieved with certain decisions of the party. If he joins the BJP, it will be his personal decision. He is a nice man. I don’t want him to leave.”
“We will certainly welcome Dutta if he joins us,” Arjun Singh, the BJP’s Barrackpore Lok Sabha MP, told HT. “The way Mamata Banerjee is running the party, using the police administration and projecting her nephew Abhishek Banerjee as the future leader, it is only natural that all the good people in the TMC will leave,” he added. Singh left the TMC and wrested Barrackpore in 2019 when the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats.
Incidentally, Mihir Goswami, the TMC lawmaker from the Cooch Behar South assembly seat in north Bengal, resigned from the party and joined the BJP in Delhi on Friday. Suvendu Adhikari, the lawmaker from Nandigram in East Midnapore district, resigned from the cabinet the same day. He was in charge of three important departments, including transport.
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A representative from I-Pac met Dutta on Tuesday morning in an apparent bid to bridge the differences but it had no impact on the senior lawmaker. Mullick, too, fixed an appointment and went to his residence in the evening but Dutta was not home. The minister waited for more than an hour and left.
“The talks should have taken place long ago. It is too late now. I have announced that I will not contest the polls. I don’t change my stand once I take it,” Dutta had said two days ago.
On November 1, he told the media that he was feeling obsolete in the TMC. “I do not believe that political decisions can be taken by a hired commercial agency. The agency cannot lecture me on politics. I feel obsolete here,” he said.
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On Wednesday afternoon, Adhikari informed the leadership that it was not possible for him to work for the party. He wrote in a text message to Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy that the problems he was having in the TMC were far from over.
This happened less than 14 hours after the TMC said that Adhikari told top leaders at a discreetly held meeting on Tuesday evening that he would not leave the party. Roy had called up chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the middle of the meeting and handed over the phone to Adhikari. “She told him that we all must work together and he agreed,” Roy said on Wednesday.
Abhishek Banerjee and Kishor were present at the meeting along with Roy and Lok Sabha member Sudip Bandopadhyay.