Interior Minister Amit Shah returned to West Bengal this weekend, 40 days after kicking off the BJP’s campaign for 200 out of 294 seats for the legislative assembly. His itinerary has yet to be fixed, but the highlight, barring unforeseen circumstances, will be the inclusion of Congress leader Trinamool Suvendu Adhikari in the BJP.
Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, for the first time, publicly acknowledged and attacked potential party rebels who are now exploring options. The stage for the Adhikari induction is set for December 19th in the city of Medinipur in the West Midnapore district, about 150km from Calcutta, which is Shah’s first stop.
Originally, his meetings with party workers and farmers were to be held in an indoor stadium. Now the place is wide open ground where Mr Adhikari will switch sides.
Mr Adhikari, Trinamool Congress’s Nandigram MLA and once the organizational hub, has done nothing to dispel the possibility.
At an apolitical public meeting in Haldia, East Midnapore district, today, Adhikari said: “We must bring back to Bengal what the Constitution said – for the people, from the people and from the people. and from the party here? “
“I don’t believe in personal attacks. A lot of people are abusing me. Some people are attacking me from important posts. But in a few days, when people cast their vote, you will know what it feels like to be Laxman Seth, Anil Bose, Bolenoy Konar, “Adhikari said, referring to three leaders of the Indian Communist Party (Marxist) who have won by record margins in the past and also lost by record margins.
Ms Banerjee, in a sense, confirmed the separation of modes. In a demonstration in Jalpaiguri, he accused the rebels of profiting from the Trinamool Congress and the government and now of seeking other options. He has never acknowledged the rebels to the party with such anger before.
“We will stand by the people and fight with them. This is our promise. Who is bigger than who in the party shouldn’t be the problem. After taking advantage of the party for 10 years, after taking advantage of being part of the government, to hobnob with this and that party … I will not tolerate these people, “said Ms. Banerjee.
Adhikari’s exit will harm the Trinamool Congress, but to what extent depends on who is speaking. Most, however, agree that Adhikari may not be the only exit from Trinamool Congress. Asansol strongman and former mayor Jitendra Tiwari is openly unhappy, as is Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee.
Banerjee met with Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee and poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Sunday. Mr. Tiwari did not come to Calcutta today for a meeting with Firhad Hakim, minister, and Mr. Kishor. He said that Ms. Banerjee called him for an interview on December 18th and he would talk to her and no one else.
Kailash Vijayvargiya from BJP called and wished Mr. Adhikari his 50th birthday today.