TMC holds onto Suvendu Adhikari, rebel leader silent post-meeting with senior leaders

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders said that all problems have been solved, dispelling strong indications that estranged TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari is moving to the BJP. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had tasked senior party MPs Sougata Roy, Abhishek Banerjee, and Sudip Bandhipadyay apart from political strategist Prashant Kishore to negotiate with the rebel leader on Tuesday evening in a two-hour long meeting held in North Kolkata. However, Adhikari is silent on the issue.

“Suvendu was in the party, is in the party, and will stay in the party,” said Sougata Roy. Adhikari will continue working actively for the party. Roy said that Adhikari will hold a press conference soon. Adhikari returned to Contai in East Midnapore after the meeting.

The meeting and subsequent truce comes after the rebel leader quit West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet as transport Minister and relinquished all other posts, amidst strong rumours that the leader was disgruntled with Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee who had a stronger party hold in districts. The BJP had indicated that it would open its doors for Adhikari, the 49-year-old Nandigram MLA. The BJP however now denies any claims of Adhikari joining the saffron party.

The disgruntled MLA was unhappy at not getting a position he deserved, unlike other senior colleagues. The rift became apparent on November 10 on Nandigram day when the leader held a separate meeting from other TMC leaders and workers.

Adhikari is seen as a mass leader with huge support at the grassroots in and around East Midnapore district and his departure from TMC would hurt the party in around 40 Assembly seats. This is a chance that TMC was not willing to take ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections, even as BJP is trying to encourage other party workers and leaders to cross over into the saffron camp. The BJP has ambitious plans of winning 200 seats in the state and TMC is doing all it can to foil the opposition’s plans and hold onto the corridors of power for a third term.

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