If one has to put a finger on that one moment when former Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi finally made up his mind to quit the party, it would be the party’s working committee meeting held on January 29 this year at supremo Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat residence.
"The meeting was a disaster. Normally, Mamata Banerjee is very punctual. But on that day, she started the meeting late and engaged us in small talks. It was only after keeping all senior leaders of the party waiting for about 30 minutes that we realised, she was waiting for MP Nusrat Jahan to turn up. The meeting began after Madame Jahan arrived. That day I felt sorry for Mamata Banerjee because she obviously valued Nusrat Jahan over all the other senior leaders. That incident helped me decide that it was time to quit," Dinesh Trivedi told News18.com.
"When I woke up on Friday morning, I had no plans to announce my resignation. But then I realised it was the last day of Parliament’s Budget session, where I could get an opportunity to speak and I took it. Sure, the decision was impulsive and taken in the spur of the moment. But the call was taken some time back and it wouldn’t have been right to wait for the elections. If TMC fares badly in the polls, which it may, and if I announced my decision then, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do," the politician added.
But getting sidelined at party meetings may not be the only trigger for the former railways minister to announce his resignation. Trivedi alleged humiliation from his colleagues within the Trinamool Parliamentary party as well. "My sitting arrangement at the Rajya Sabha was changed for some unexplained reasons. I was aghast to find my seat at the Rajya Sabha galleries instead of the chamber when the sitting arrangement was declared ahead of the session by our leader in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien," Trivedi rued.
"There comes a moment when you can’t take humiliations anymore and put your foot down to say enough is enough," he declared.
Asked whether he communicated his displeasure to the party before taking the dramatic step on the floor of the House, Trivedi said: "I was bad mouthed by my colleagues in Parliament when I criticised the attack on Nadda’s convoy. I texted Subrata Bakshi, party’s general secretary, saying I wouldn’t tolerate such insults. My text went unanswered. I spoke to senior leaders in the party like Saugata Roy and Sudip Bandyopadhyay about my discontent but with no result."
Trivedi’s grudges seem to be directed also towards the present organisational structure of the Trinamool. "The party has been taken over by Prashant Kishor who decides who would be MLAs. If his job is to advise Mamata Banerjee, what business does he have sitting in party’s internal meetings? Who is he to tell me what attention I should be paying to my constituency? Why has the party diverted all its machineries towards Abhishek Banerjee?" he asked.
"It now seems Prashant Kishor’s aim is to get people out of the party," Trivedi alleged, adding, "It was under these circumstances I asked myself what am I still doing in this party?"
Talking about his contribution for the Trinamool Congress, Trivedi referred to Mamata Banerjee’s movement in Singur some 14 years back. "It was I who burnt the midnight oil and drafted the Singur petition before the Calcutta High Court. It was me who brought those letters of assurances from Atalji (Atal Behari Vajpayee), Manmohan Singh and the President and paved the way to break her hunger strike," he said.
"So, when I say that the soul and purpose of the house on which the Trinamool Congress was built is now gone, what I mean is people like me who are founding members of the party should have been listened to. They shouldn’t have been treated as mere karmacharis, which we are not. We are stakeholders in the party. And when that feeling goes, you know you don’t have a place in this party. It is better to get out when you still have the time," Trivedi said.
Trivedi is yet to give a concrete timeline on his next move, which perceptively is to join the BJP, but agrees that "politically BJP is the obvious choice". He has since gone on to remark that "it would be a privilege to join the BJP" but for now he needs a little downtime and to settle.
Talking to News18 on the subject, Trivedi said, "I have known Prime Minister Modi for a long time. I can walk into his room and I don’t even require a formal meeting with him. But if I need an appointment, I always get that. But none of that I can do with Mamata Banerjee."
Meanwhile, Trinamool’s responses to Trivedi’s dramatic exit have been sharp. "Dinesh Trivedi speaks of 'suffocation'! It seems he is having multiple 'suffocations' in his political career. After his defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he expressed his so-called suffocation to our leader Mamata Banerjee and asked for rehabilitation. Considering his plight our leader nominated him to the Rajya Sabha. And within a few months, he is feeling 'suffocated' again? It seems he has some political motives, some ill motives to defame the party in which he won’t succeed," Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, TMC Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha, told News18.
Sarcasm poured in thick and wide for Trivedi even a day after his resignation announcement. "Those who are feeling suffocated and getting themselves admitted in BJP’s ICU, let me tell you that people of Bengal will suffocate you more in the days ahead," declared Abhishek Banerjee at a public meeting in Kulpi in South 24 Parganas district on Saturday.
"If I were in Mamata Banerjee’s place, I would have immediately called Dinesh Trivedi and asked him to speak to me. I would have told him 'it doesn’t matter that you left your chair, but you cannot leave me.' But that’s me. Instead, she presses senior party leaders to state that my departure wouldn’t matter to the party and it would be an opportunity to bring in grassroots leaders to Rajya Sabha," Trivedi sounded wounded.
"But I will tell her this: If you are not left with your roots, where will the grasses come from?," the leader stated.