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The Bengal minister, once key to Mamata’s politics, who is now ‘revolting’ against her

Transport Minister Subhendu Adhikari was behind Mamata’s Nandigram agitation but has not attended a cabinet or administrative meeting for the past 3-4 months.

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Kolkata: Factional feuds and dramatic polarisation tactics appear to be the essence of West Bengal politics in this election season.

While the BJP is the latest to join the bandwagon, with two senior leaders openly airing their differences last week, the ruling Trinamool Congress has long been plagued by intra-party conflicts.

But even for a party riven by divisions, the latest development is proving a major headache for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Just months before the 2021 assembly polls, Mamata is having to contend with a one-man rebellion led by Subhendu Adhikari — state transport minister, former MP and, significantly, the key man behind the chief minister’s 2007 anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram that helped her end 34 years of Left rule in the state.

Adhikari, who hasn’t attended any cabinet or administrative meetings held by the chief minister over the past three to four months, is now addressing public rallies under his own banner of ‘Amra Dadar Anugami (We are dada’s followers)’.

On Wednesday, he held a meeting at Kolaghat in East Midnapore district and said that he did not “fancy any post” and just wanted to serve the people.

But more than what he said, it is what he did that is raising eyebrows. Neither was Mamata Banerjee’s name mentioned nor any TMC banner strung up at the meeting. That is unprecedented for any TMC leader.

All this has triggered speculation that Adhikari is looking to shift political allegiances. The BJP has jumped in, insisting that the TMC minister has approached the party.

A top BJP leader from Delhi told The Print that Adhikari was in “constant touch” with the party, while Trinamool Congress veterans admitted that the minister’s decisions amounted to “dissent and indiscipline”.

“Subhendu is breaking party discipline. He is not joining party and government programmes but is routinely holding his own public meetings,” a senior TMC leader said.

Officially, however, the party refused to comment.

“Only our leader (Mamata) can comment on this issue. We cannot say anything about it,” said Tapas Roy, senior leader and a state minister.

ThePrint reached Adhikari through calls, texts and WhatsApp messages but is yet to receive a response.

However, his father, Sisir Adhikari, a former union minister and a veteran TMC MP, said he and his son were still with Mamata Banerjee and the rumours were being spread by “some dim-witted politicians for their vested interests”.

“Subhendu is in the Trinamool Congress. I cannot predict the future but we all are still with Mamata Banerjee,” Sisir said.

On his son’s decision to skip party programmes and hold meetings under the banner of a new organisation, he said, “Subhendu is a seasoned politician and he takes his own decisions. There are people who love him and they have floated an organisation.

“There are some dim-witted politicians who spread rumours about him. There are some delicate emotional issues, which can be resolved.”


Also read: Bengal’s Durga Puja 2020 is a petri dish of politics and pandemic, a perfect storm for BJP


A key TMC leader

Adhikari is seen as one of the very few leaders in the Trinamool Congress with a steady supporter base of his own.

He had been Mamata’s pointsman in East Midnapore and the entire Jangalmahal (Junglemahal) area that consists of three districts — West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.

Adhikari was the party in-charge of the four districts that together have eight Lok Sabha seats and 56 assembly segments but was removed after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A former president of the youth wing of the Trinamool Congress, Adhikari is a two-term MP and a minister. However, in a major organisational reshuffle in 2014, Mamata had made her nephew Abhishek the chief of the youth wing.

“Subhendu is the only leader in Trinamool Congress who has his own support base and may win an election without Mamata Banerjee’s name,” said a second senior Trinamool leader.

But apart from missing meetings, TMC insiders said the minister has been making veiled attacks on the chief minister.

At his Kolaghat meeting Wednesday, he said, “Some politicians visit their constituencies before elections. They did not come to help migrants.

“After the worst was over, they came to distribute cheap food materials. They are all self-centred people; they only talk about themselves. None can win alone. This is a cumulative effort. People who only say, I, me, mine, destroy everything.”

This is being seen as a dig at the chief minister’s statement, ahead of the 2016 elections, that she was the candidate at all 294 constituencies in the state.

Adhikari’s apparent fallout with Mamata Banerjee has now left the party worried. “Subhendu never got his due. Subhendu’s dissent is justified,” a third veteran Trinamool leader told ThePrint.

‘In touch with BJP’

A top central BJP leader told The Print that Adhikari had been in “constant touch” with them. “He is in touch with us. He needs to sort out some family-related issues. His family has senior politicians,” the leader said.

Officially, though, the BJP is giving little away.

“Trinamool has many many disgruntled leaders. They are disillusioned with Mamata Banerjee,” Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP’s national general secretary said.

Adhikari, however, is one of the accused in the Narada sting scam and was purportedly caught on camera while allegedly accepting bribes. The CBI has sent his name for prosecution approval to the speaker of the Lok Sabha in connection with the scam. He has been interrogated by the central agencies — CBI and ED — in connection with both the Narada and Sarada chit fund scam.


Also read: Trinamool welcomes GJM’s Bimal Gurung, but says no question of separate Gorkhaland


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Worst violence then seen in FRANCE is going on under THE DIDI.

    But journalists who are used to project rioters as victims and victims as PERPETRATORS are quite on the brutal killings.

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