Back-channel negotiations are currently underway between Adhikari and the BJP.
New Delhi: The exit of Suvendu Adhikari from the Mamata Banerjee Cabinet on Friday has come as a huge blow to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), just ahead of the 2021 crucial Assembly elections in the state.
As a damage control move, the TMC is trying to placate Adhikari to remain in the party, but if sources close to Adhikari are to believed, Adhikari and the TMC have reached to a point of “no-return” and that it is highly unlikely that he would continue with the party any more.
Top leaders from the TMC, including Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, were also slated to meet Adhikari on Saturday, but that meeting was cancelled at the last moment and the meeting is now postponed for Monday. However, back-channel negotiations are currently underway between Adhikari and the BJP and it is most likely that he could join the BJP in the coming days. Sources also said that Adhikari is also likely to travel to Delhi to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J.P. Nadda in the coming week, after which a decision would be taken.
Adhikari, who was once considered as the most trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee and the architect of the Nandigram movement in Bengal which eventually led to the fall of the 34-year Left rule in the state in 2011, is currently at loggerheads with Mamata Banerjee.
It is believed that Adhikari was unhappy with the current working style of the TMC in which he has been one of the founding members. Sources close to Adhikari that this correspondent spoke to said that Adhikari is particularly unhappy with the way Prashant Kishor (newly hired political tutor of Mamata Banerjee and the founder of political consulting firm I-PAC) has been handling the party affairs.
TMC leaders close to Adhikari also say that Kishor has hijacked the party and is trying to promote only two people in the party–one being Mamata Banerjee and the other being her nephew and MP from Diamond Harbour near Kolkata, Abhishek Banerjee. Political observers from Bengal say that the exit of Suvendu Adhikari from the TMC at the eleventh hour, just before the elections, could in a way cost the TMC heavily in the upcoming state Assembly polls.
Adhikari comes from a family of politicians–his father Shishir Adhikari is a sitting MP from the TMC, his brother Dibyendu Adhikari is also an MP, while another brother of Adhikari is a Municipal Corporation chairman, while Adhikari himself is an MLA from Nandigram and till Friday, was a sitting Cabinet Minister in the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal.
Adhikari is believed to have a strong influence in the Medinipur area of West Bengal and according to locals from the East and West Medinipur, which has four Lok Sabha seats and 30 Assembly seats combined, Adhikari’s influence rules the roost. He is believed to be managing the elections for the TMC in these two districts ever since the inception of the party. Not only this, Adhikari is also believed to have a strong influence in the neighbouring districts of Jhargram, Purulia and Bankura where he is believed to enjoy strong support from the local electorates. These three districts combined have over 19 Assembly seats.
Although Adhikari has resigned from the position of Cabinet Minister from the Mamata Banerjee government, he is yet to resign from the party. He is still a sitting MLA of the TMC and sources close to him said that he could soon resign from the party as well. Adhikari was the Transport and irrigation minister in the West Bengal government.