JOLT TO MAMATA … Transport minister Suvendu quits govt, to join hands with BJP


KOLKATA: In a major jolt to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her ruling Trinamool Congress, senior party leader and state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari left the government and is all set to join the BJP bandwagon. He would join hands with the BJP to throw Mamata out of power in the coming assembly polls.

Suvenu, who has forwarded the resignation letter to Mamata and governor Jagdeep Dhankar, said he would soon decide his future course of action. He has been distancing from Mamata for the past one year, and recently attended some events outside of the TMC framework. Alongside, an outfit called Dadar Anugami (followers of the brother) has been sprouting in various parts of the state in support of Adhikari.

Two issues that set Adhikari against the CM were the attempt by Mamata Banerjee to promote her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, now an MP, in the TMC and government circles. The CM’s plan is seen to be to turn TMC into a dynasty-led party, like the Congress. Adhikari, who was kind of a second-in-command in the TMC behind Mamata, smelt a rat. Also, the introduction of election strategist, Prashant Kishor to build the image for the TMC and Mamata was also not to the liking of Adhikari. Kishor hails from Bihar. Mamata, Adhikari and Kishor are all from the Brahmin stock.

Notably, Adhikari was in the forefront of the agitation against the land acquisition plan of the Buddhdev Bhattacharya-led Left Front government in Nandigarm in 2007. He was then a TMC MLA from the region. It was this agitation that spelled doom for the Left Front government and led to its exit from power in 2011 at the hands of TMC, after an uninterrupted 34 years in power.

The BJP is now serious about dislodging the Mamata Banerjee government. Mamata had been in the forefront of the campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi ever since he was nominated by the BJP for the top post. Mamata herself nursed ambitions of becoming PM by cobbling an alliance of regional parties, but this did not come off. Mamata failed to have any appeal beyond West Bengal, where she enjoyed the support of Bhadraloks led by Brahmins and also of the poor through her advocacy of the causes of the slum dwellers etc. She had also managed to win the support of the Muslims, who form 30 per cent of the population. Now, Muslims are also disenchanted with the style of functioning of the Mamata government. 

Notably, the Hyderabad-based Assadudin Owais, who leads the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is trying to consolidate the strength of Muslims behind the pr-Muslim party. Owaisi has made several visits to West Bengal in recent times, and is steadily building the base for the party. He has won five seats in Bihar Assembly polls. It already has a few seats in Maharashtra assembly, and is now trying to capture Hyderabad Municipal Corporation in view of the strong Muslim base there. He is also entering Tamil Nadu in a big way in the coming assembly polls. 

Meanwhile, the BJP is making a very serious effort this time to dislodge Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool from power, as it did with the CPIM in Tripura by first decimating the Trinamool support bases there. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has started learning Bengali four years ago, has announced he would be visiting West Bengal every week from January, to build the party campaign machinery for the May assembly polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also planning to make several visits to West Bengal to build support for the BJP.

In a stunning growth, the BJP had won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal in the 2019 polls, and emerged as the main Opposition in the state by sidelining the CPIM and the Congress. This time, the CPIM, CPI, and the Congress have entered into an alliance to unitedly face the Trinamool and the BJP. All these three parties have very little influence in the state now. The main fight will, thus, be between the BJP and the Trinamool. 

The exit of Suvendu Adhikari from the Trinamool set-up will majorly affect the ruling party in the state, as he has influence in some 15 constituencies in East and West Midnapore, Malda regions. He hails from a Congress family and his father was a Union minister in the UPA government. Suvendu Adhikari left the Congress and joined hands with the TMC when Mamata formed the party in 1988. He also has a stigma, via-a-vis the Saradha chit fund scam, in which his name figures prominently over duping of lakhs of investors. Central agencies are still investigating the case. –IHN-NN


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