Suvendu Adhikari joins BJP in presence of Shah

Heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari joins BJP; 9 MLAs, 1 MP also change sides

Adhikari resigned from the Trinamool Congress earlier this week, besides giving up his cabinet portfolios in the Mamata Banerjee government

Former TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari. Credit: PTI Photo

Trinamool Congress (TMC) suffered its biggest defection on Saturday, since coming to power in West Bengal in 2011 when six of its sitting MLAs including a heavyweight leader and former Minister Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in West Midnapore district. A sitting TMC MP also joined the saffron party. A CPI(M) MLA who joined the TMC in 2018 without resigning from her post joined the BJP along with a CPI(M) and a Congress MLA.

Apart from Adhikari, TMC MLAs Banasri Maity (Kathi North), Silbhadra Dutta (Barrackpore), Biswajit Kundu (Kalna), Sukra Munda (Nagrakata), Saikat Panja (Monteswar) joined the BJP. CPI(M) MLA Dipali Biswas (Gajole) who joined TMC in 2018 joined BJP along with another CPI(M) MLA Tapasi Mondal(Haldia). CPI(M) MLA Ashok Dinda (Tamluk) and Congress MLA Sudip Mukherjee (Purulia) also joined the saffron party. TMC MP Sunil Mondal (Bardhaman East) joined the BJP.

The scene at Shah’s rally would have been difficult for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to imagine. One of her trusted lieutenants, Adhikari, who played a key role in the Nandigram land agitation which catapulted her to power in 2011, gave the call to “hand over” Bengal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I want the same party to be in power at the Centre and the State. Otherwise, Bengal will not survive. The economy here is ruined. There are no jobs and only corruption. The only way to recover from this is to hand over Bengal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Adhikari.

An ace organiser, the former Minister issued a direct challenge to the TMC supremo stating that her party would be pushed to the “second place” in the 2021 Assembly elections while BJP would occupy the first place.

Adhikari slammed the Chief Minister for dubbing BJP leaders as “outsiders” and said that “we are Indians first and then Bengalis.” Lashing out at the TMC for dubbing him as a “traitor” Adhikari reminded the party that it had once been a constituent of the BJP-led NDA.

The defection, especially that of Adhikari, would most likely have a severe impact on TMC’s organisation ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections. Adhikari, who was perhaps the only leader in the TMC after Mamata, with a substantial mass base, has significant organisational clout in at least 50 Assembly constituencies in Bengal and may deliver a severe blow to his former party.