With the ruling Trinamool Congress leadership claiming to have resolved all issues with Suvendu Adhikari, who resigned from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet last week, all eyes are now on a mega rally in West Midnapore the party supremo is scheduled to address on December 7.
Midnapore being Adhikari’s stronghold, it is presumed he will attend the party event, something he has avoided doing in recent months.
If he shares the dais with Banerjee, all confusions over his political stand is likely to get cleared. However, if he is found missing, speculations over his ties with the ruling camp in Bengal will continue ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in 2021.
Besides the rally at College Math in West Midnapore, Adhikari’s home turf, Banerjee will address similar rallies in the coming days in Howrah, Hooghly, Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur.
The chief minister will also hold meetings with the senior party leaders, MLAs and ministers from all districts through video conference on December 4.
Adhikari also has a number of ‘non-political’ programmes scheduled for December 3, 13, 15 and 17 at Garbeta in West Midnapore, Tamluk and Mahishadal in East Midnapore, respectively. What and how he addresses these events are also going to be watched keenly.
Like every year, the former transport minister will address a public meeting on the occasion of freedom fighter Khudiram Bose’s birth anniversary in Tamluk.
Over the last few months, Adhikari was seen addressing gatherings without using TMC symbols and flags. In all the rallies, a sea of people claiming to be ‘amra dadar anugami’ (we are followers of elder brother) were seen marching behind the former minister.
On November 27, (hours before MLA Mihir Goswami from Cooch Behar South quit the TMC and joined the BJP) Adhikari had raised political temperatures by resigning from Banerjee’s cabinet. He quit as minister for transport and irrigation, but remains a Trinamool MLA as he did not resign from the Assembly.
While his resignation was being speculated as a beginning of his exit from the party, Sunday’s meeting between Adhikari and TMC MPs Abhishek Banerjee, Sougata Roy and Sudip Bandhopadhyay and election strategist Prashant Kishor seemed to have helped the party to avert the crisis.
Later, the chief minister is also said to have spoken to Adhikari over the phone and it was after this call that he is believed to have expressed his wish to remain in the party.
“Suvendu told me personally that he is not joining the BJP. He never had any differences with Abhishek Banerjee. He raised some issues over the functioning of the organisation and this was resolved. The meeting was fruitful,” Roy told reporters after the meeting.
Adhikari’s father and party MP Sisir Adhikari also expressed happiness after the meeting. “Partir mongol hok... Etai sobbai chae (we all want good for our party).”
The former transport minister played a key role in the TMC supremo’s Nandigram movement in in East Midnapore in 2007 that helped her oust the 34-year rule of the Left Front in Bengal. Over the years, Banerjee also gave due respect to him and his family members for their dedication towards the party.
Since then, Adhikari is known as one of the powerful leaders in the party, but insiders claimed he was not happy with the ‘attitude’ of a few TMC functionaries. However, he continued to work hard for the party only on “Banerjee’s instruction and no one else”.
Despite his claims, he was missing from key party events and rallies in recent times. On April 21, 2017, he stayed away from the TMC’s organisational meet at Netaji Indoor Stadium citing health issues. In March, 2020, he was found absent from another party event at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
He again put the party in an uncomfortable situation after he gave a miss to a government programme in Jhargram on August 9 to mark International Day of World's Indigenous People. He was supposed to address an official meeting along with state Education Minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee but instead he attended another private event at nearby Sido Kanhu Hall at Sialgeria Maidan in the same district.
Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress have maintained the TMC is making such statements in haste as the leader himself did not come forward to clear his stand in the party. TMC insiders claimed that Adhikari is likely to hold a press conference soon to clear his future political move.