Disgruntled Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari on Thursday said he will continue to serve the people of the state as a "son of Bengal and India". His comment came amidst speculations over his next political move following the impasse in the dialogue between him and the party, which had claimed that differences with him had been sorted out.
Adhikari, who resigned from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet last week, was seen on Thursday holding a rally here without banners or flags of the party. The rally was held to mark the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Khudiram Bose in Tamluk sub-division of East Midnapore district. His supporters were seen carrying the national flag during the programme.
"The Constitution of our country speaks of government by the people, of the people and for the people. I am a son of Bengal and a son of India and will continue to serve the people of my state in that capacity," Adhikari told reporters when asked about his present political stand. His statement comes a day after leaders close to him had rejected the TMC leadership's claim of a rapprochement with him as "false", and said he is unpacified as his grievances have not been addressed.
Meanwhile, the party leadership has decided not to take any further initiative to convince Adhikari to remain in the party. However, the party is open to hear him, if he has to say something to the TMC supremo. The party leadership is also mulling the proposal of replacing him as the chief of the TMC Workers’ Federation.
It is learnt that Banerjee had a meeting with senior party leaders on Wednesday night and she had reportedly said, “Let’s not discuss him further. Time to concentrate on work and I am sure people will once again repose their trust on us.”
TMC MP Saugata Roy, who was among those who held talks with Adhikari to resolve the differences, said, “If Adhikari wants to say something, he is most welcome but there is nothing from the TMC to comment further in this matter.”
While responding to rifts in the party, Roy said, “There is a saying in English: ‘rats are deserting the sinking ships’. There are a few who think the TMC has become a weak party and therefore, they are leaving. However, they don’t know the TMC is strong enough and we will once again form the government in Bengal. We all know that fate of the rats jumping in the sea.”
Adhikari, an influential leader with a mass base who had resigned from Baengal cabinet and other positions that he held a few days ago, has maintained that it is "difficult for him to work with the party".
Adhikari is said to be miffed at the way senior TMC leaders went to town on Tuesday claiming all differences with him had been sorted out after a high-level meeting that he had with TMC MPs Abhishek Banerjee, Saugata Roy and Sudip Bandopadhyay, besides election strategist Prashant Kishor. Sources close to Adhikari said he did not want the details of what transpired at the meeting during the backchannel talks to be leaked to the media.
He has been incommunicado after the Tuesday night meeting. Repeated calls to the former minister for the last three days went unanswered. All eyes are now on Adhikari's sheduled press conference on December 6 at his hometown Kanthi in East Midnapore district.
Adhikari, a mascot of the Nandigram movement that added to the political heft of Mamata Banerjee and catapulted her to power, had resigned as minister of transport, irrigation and waterways last week, setting off speculation that he may quit the ruling TMC ahead of the state assembly polls next year. Several rounds of backchannel talks to pacify the leader, believed to be unhappy over organisational changes and the growing clout of Abhishek Banerjee and Kishor, have come to nought.
Himself a two-term former MP, Adhikari's father Sisir Adhikari and brother Dibyendu are sitting TMC MPs from Tamluk and Kanthi Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively. The family wields considerable influence in at least 40-45 Assembly segments in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, parts of Birbhum — mainly in the Junglemahal region and areas in minority-dominated Murshidabad.
The state polls are likely to be held in April-May next year.
(With inputs from PTI)