More dissident voices appeared in the ranks of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in different districts of south Bengal on Wednesday with several legislators and a Lok Sabha member speaking out against the party organisation and election strategist Prashant Kishor ahead of Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit this weekend.
In a major development, former cabinet minister and heavyweight TMC legislator Suvendu Adhikari resigned from the legislative assembly around 4pm on Wednesday. He was the legislator from Nandigram in East Midnapore district.
Adhikari went to the assembly and submitted a hand-written letter at the secretariat. The speaker, Biman Banerjee, was not present in his office.
Also read: TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari may join BJP during Amit Shah’s Bengal visit
Adhikari’s aides had said earlier that he was likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the poll-bound state later this week. He could switch over to the BJP on December 19 at Shah’s rally in East Midnapore.
Shah will be in Bengal on December 19 and 20. He will address rallies in at least three districts, including East Midnapore where Adhikari, his father and two brothers represent two Lok Sabha constituencies and an assembly seat. They also run the civic body at Contai, their hometown.
Reacting to Adhikari’s resignation from the assembly, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the rebel leader would be welcomed if he joined the BJP.
Saugata Roy, TMC Lok Sabha member, said, “Adhikari is taking once step at a time before joining the BJP. This is not unexpected for us.”
The developments took place while chief minister Mamata Banerjee addressed rallies in north Bengal, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won seven of the region’s eight Lok Sabha seats in 2019.
Also read: Situation in Bengal worse than Kashmir, says BJP’s Dilip Ghosh
More TMC leaders voiced dissent in south Bengal districts, where the BJP could not perform so well.
Sunil Mandal, the two-time Lok Sabha MP from Burdwan East constituency, which was one of the strongest bases of the Marxists till he wrested the seat in 2014, told the local media that the TMC needed reforms.
Questioning the necessity to rope in Kishor and his I-Pac, Mandal said, “It is acceptable that those of us who worked on the ground among people and rose from the ranks have to take instructions from paid employees of I-Pac on where and how to hold processions?”
“People of Bengal are sensitive and intelligent. Processions cannot ensure votes,” said Mandal. Posters appeared in his support in several parts of East Burdwan amid strong speculations that Adhikari may hold a meeting with him.
Statements against the TMC leadership were also made by Dipak Haldar, the legislator from Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district; Biswajit Kundu, the legislator from Kalna in East Burdwan district; and Jitendra Tiwari, Asansol’s outgoing mayor and legislator from Pandabeswar in West Burdwan district.
In another development, forest minister Rajib Banerjee’s followers put up more posters in different districts, including East Midnapore. The minister too made significant statements at a public programme on Tuesday.
“People cannot change their character every day. You can change clothes every day but not idealism. Do you, the common people, have faith in me? Those who are with the party since its birth are still there. A few of those who joined us later are leaving. It will not make any difference,” Mamata Banerjee said at a rally in Cooch Behar.
Incidentally, Mihir Goswami, the local TMC legislator, joined the BJP last month.