Interior Minister Amit Shah returned to West Bengal this weekend, 40 days after he launched the BJP campaign for 200 of the 294 seats in the legislative elections. His itinerary is not yet set, but the highlight, except for unforeseen circumstances, will be the introduction into the BJP of Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari.
Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, for the first time, recognized and attacked the party’s potential rebels, now exploring options. The stage for the introduction of Mr Adhikari is set for 19 December in the town of Medinipur in the West Midnapore district, about 150 km from Kolkata, which is Mr Shah’s first stop.
Initially, his meetings with party workers and farmers were to take place in a covered stadium. Now, the venue is a wide open field, where Mr. Adhikari will change sides.
Mr. Adhikari, the Nandigram deputy of the Trinamool Congress and, once the most important organizer, did nothing to dispel this possibility.
At a non-political public meeting in Haldia in today’s East Midnapore district, Mr Adhikari said: “We must return to Bengal to what the Constitution has said – for the people, by the people and by the people. Why will it be for the party, the party and the party here? “
“I don’t believe in personal attacks. A lot of people abuse me. Some people attack me from high positions. But in a few days, you will know when people express their vote how it feels to be Laxman Seth, Anil Bose, Bolenoy Konar,” said Mr. Adhikari, referring to three leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) who have won by a record margin in the past and lost by a record margin.
Ms. Banerjee, in a way, confirmed the separation of paths. At a rally in Jalpaiguri, she accused the rebels of taking advantage of the Trinamool Congress and the government and were now looking for other options. She had never recognized the rebels in the party so furiously before.
“We will stay with the people and fight them. This is our promise. Who is bigger than who in the party should not be the problem. After taking advantage of the party for 10 years, after taking advantage of being part of government, to hobnob with this and that party … I will not tolerate such people, “Ms Banerjee said.
Mr Adhikari’s departure will affect the Trinamool Congress, but to what extent it depends on who speaks. However, most agree that Mr Adhikari cannot be the only way out of the Trinamool Congress. Asansol’s strongman and former mayor Jitendra Tiwari is utterly dissatisfied, as is forest minister Rajib Banerjee.
Ms Banerjee met with Congress Secretary General Trinamool Partha Chatterjee and poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Sunday. Mr Tiwari did not come to Kolkata today for a meeting with Firhad Hakim, the minister and Mr Kishor. He said Ms Banerjee had invited him to talks on December 18 and would speak to her and no one else.
Kailash Vijayvargiya of the BJP called and hated Mr Adhikari on his 50th birthday today.