Suvendu Adhikari’s exit will be a game-changing phenomenon in the April-May 2021 assembly election of WB.

Suvendu Adhikari is an Indian politician. He is a former minister in charge of Transport, Irrigation and Water resource in the Government of West Bengal. He was a 15th Lok Sabha member and the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2016), as an All-India Trinamool Congress candidate, from Tamluk.

He is the son of Sisir Adhikari, former Union Minister of State for Rural Development in the Manmohan Singh government.

Adhikari – the mastermind of the 2007 Nandigram agitation – who holds influence in about 35 assembly constituencies in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, and Birbhum districts,

Credited as the man who galvanized the people of Nandigram under the umbrella of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee, when rumours of land acquisition for a chemical hub had triggered a movement, Suvendu Adhikari was a member of the Legislative Assembly from Contai. Suvendu defeated CPI(M) ‘s strongman Lakshman Seth by a margin of 1,72,958 votes.

Adhikari’s ire is believed to be mainly directed at Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee. He has slowly but surely emerged as the most powerful person in the state after the chief minister.

The entry of poll strategist Prashant Kishor into the picture has further muddied the waters, and Adhikari has been dismissive of attempts by Kishor to reach out to him.

The tussle between the two camps has become uglier in recent days, with Mamata loyalists like Kalyan Banerjee hitting out at Adhikari. “Whatever you [Suvendu Adhikari] are it is because of Mamata Banerjee. If Mamata wasn’t there, you would have to sell potatoes,” Kalyan, a TMC MP, thundered at a public meeting a few days ago.

In recent months, Adhikari has been giving signals, both subtle and overt, that all is not well between him and the TMC leadership. He has avoided government and party programs, and there are no TMC banners when he addresses the public gathering.

He had been creating rumours for the past few months by holding rallies not under the Trinamool flag or its supremo – Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s posters and had skipped cabinet meetings. While Suvendu himself is very influential, his father, Sisir Adhikari, and younger brother Dibyendu Adhikari are TMC MPs from Tamluk and Kanthi Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively.

Other TMC rebel leaders are also angered by the importance the party leadership is giving to Kishor and his political consultancy firm I-PAC, which manages the TMC’s 2021 re-election campaign. State minister and TMC leader Rajib Banerjee said, “It is strange that the sidekicks who engage in corruption get the plum responsibilities in the party whereas the sincere, dedicated workers are relegated to the back. Those sitting in the air-conditioned enclosures enjoy being big leaders and those who toil it hard on the ground are ignored.” Banerjee continued adding “only the sycophants enjoy prominence and get a higher mark in the party… those like me who cannot do that… get low score…. But I cannot call good as bad and a bad as good.”

After the breakdown of talks, Adhikari resigned from the cabinet post of Transport minister after quitting as Hooghly River Bridge Commission chairman, saying it was ‘difficult to work in TMC’. Adhikari does leave the party, and it could affect the TMC’s chance in at least two dozen seats.

  • Adhikari resigned from the post of chairman of Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC), a statutory body under the Government of West Bengal, on 26 November 2020, saying it was ‘difficult to work in TMC’.
  • He also resigned as West Bengal Transport Minister on 27 November 2020.
  • He had tendered his resignation to the speaker of West Bengal Legislative Assembly as MLA on 16 December 2020, which was not accepted by the speaker initially on the grounds of technicality. However, it was eventually accepted on 21 December 2020.
  • On 17 December 2020, he resigned from the primary membership of the All India Trinamool Congress.
  • On 19 December 2020, he joined Bharatiya Janata Party with Home Minister Amit Shah’s hand.

Reacting to Suvendu’s exit, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that ‘people who won’t get a ticket are going away’. Addressing a public rally, Banerjee lashed out at the saffron party, saying that they were ‘attacking the TMC’, but added, ‘TMC is as deep-rooted as a Banyan tree’. Adhikari has also written to WB Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, seeking his intervention to dissuade the police and administration apparatus from implicating him and his followers in criminal cases.

However, according to political analysts, Subhendu has a support base in around 110 assembly constituencies, which include parts of Malda, Murshidabad, South Dinajpur, Hooghly, and Howrah (rural). He has worked as TMC’s observer in some of these areas, primarily in Jangalmahal, Malda, and Murshidabad, for a long time.

Along with Adhikari, four other TMC MLAs, one TMC MP, one Congress MLA, and two Left MLAs followed suit. Speculations were rife about them joining the BJP over the weekend.

Here are the leaders who joined the BJP along with Adhikari:

  •           Sunil Mondal, MP, Burdwan Purba
  •           Dasarath Tirkey, Ex-MP, Alipurduar
  •           Tapasi Mondal, Haldia
  •           Ashoke Dinda, Tamluk
  •           Sudip Mukherjee, Purulia
  •           Saikat Panja, Burdwan
  •           Shilbhadra Dutta, Barrackpore
  •           Dipali Biswas, Gazole
  •           Sukra Munda, Nagarkata
  •           Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Bishnupur
  •           Biswajit Kundu, Kalna
  •           Banasri Maity, Kanthi North