Home Minister Amit Shah returned to West Bengal this weekend, 40 days after he launched the BJP’s campaign for 200 out of 294 seats to elect the legislature. His itinerary is yet to be repaired, but the high point, apart from unforeseen circumstances, will be the input of Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari into the BJP.
Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, for the first time, publicly acknowledged and attacked potential party rebels now exploring possibilities. The stage for Adhikari’s succession is set for December 19 in the city of Medinipur in the West Midnapore district, about 150 km from Kolkata, which is Mr. Shah’s first stop.
Originally his meetings with party workers and peasants were to be held in an indoor stadium. Now the site is a wide open lot where Mr Adhikari will swap sides.
Mr Adhikari, a Nandigram deputy of Trinamool Congress and once the organizing prime minister, did nothing to rule out the possibility.
At a non-political public meeting at Haldia in East Midnaporo district today, Mr Adhikari said, “We must return to Bengal, as the Constitution said – for the people, for the people and for the people. Why will it be for the party, from the party and from the party here? “
“I don’t believe in personal attacks. A lot of people abuse me. Some people attack me from big posters. But in a few days, you’ll know when people vote, how it feels to be Laxman Seth, Anil Bose, Bolenoy Konar,” said s- Mr Adhikari, referring to three leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxists) who have won with record margins in the past and lost with record margins as well.
Ms. Banerjee somehow confirmed the separation. During a rally in Jalpaiguri, she accused rebels of profiting from Trinamool Congress and the government and is now looking for other options. She had not acknowledged rebels in the party so angrily before.
“We will stand with the people and fight with them. That is our promise. Who is bigger than who in the party should not be the issue. After profiting from the party for 10 years, after profiting from being part of the government, to hobnob with this and that party … I will not tolerate such people, “said Mrs. Banerjee.
Mr Adhikari’s departure will hurt Trinamool Congress, but to what extent it depends on who is speaking. Most, however, agree that Mr. Adhikari may not be the only way out of Trinamool Congress. Asansol strongman and former mayor Jitendra Tiwari is openly unhappy, so is forest minister Rajib Banerjee.
Ms. Banerjee on Sunday met with Trinamool Congress general secretary Partha Chatterjee and investigative strategist Prashant Kishor. Mr Tiwari did not come to Kolkata for a meeting with Firhad Hakim, a minister, and Mr Kishor today. He said Ms Banerjee had called him for a conversation on December 18, and he would speak with her and no one else.
Kailash Vijayvargiya of the BJP called and wished Mr Adhikari today on his 50th birthday.