In his second public meeting at Nandigram since joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Suvendu Adhikari on Friday (January 8) proved that he might not have been the supremo when in the Trinamool Congress (TMC), but that he always was and still is the prime political figure in Nandigram.
At the BJP public meeting, more than one lakh supporters had gathered, as Adhikari had promised earlier in December last year. On 29th last month, Suvendu Adhikari had dared the ruling TMC, to which he formerly belonged, and its supremo Mamata Banerjee to organise a public rally as big as the BJP's in the Purbo Medinipur area.
Today's event in Nandigram was evidently a massive show of strength. Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya was present, as was the saffron party's president of the West Bengal unit, Dilip Ghosh, and veteran TMC-turned-BJP leader Mukul Roy. Both Vijayvargiya and Ghosh, along with the recently-inducted Suvendu Adhikari, addressed the huge crowd which had gathered there.
Vijayvargiya vowed to free the people of West Bengal from "the dictatorship of the TMC" and create 'Sonar Bangla' (Golden Bengal) in return.
Regardless of whichever party he belonged to, the people of Nandigram rally behind Suvendu Adhikari, today's rally has proved, much to the ruling TMC's distress.
There was also a considerable alarm over an alleged incident of stone-pelting during the rally. BJP workers accused TMC supporters of pelting stones, aimed at the stage, to disrupt the party proceedings. Adhikari himself took hold of the situation and assured everyone that he will remain on stage until every party worker present reached their residences safely.
He also slammed the TMC, reminscing that he had never had to face such uncouth incidents from even CPI(M) workers in Bengal.
In an attempt to redeem the eviscerating situation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to hold a public rally in Nandigram on January 18. Meanwhile, a counter-rally, in response to the TMC's, will be held on part of the BJP on January 19 in the same region, Adhikari announced today.
For all intents and purposes, Suvendu Adhikari still remains notable for having played a vital role in TMC's Nandigram movement in 2007 which helped the party snatch power from the Left Front.
Since he was an MLA from the Kanthi Dakshin constituency at the time, Adhikari was central to galvanizing the people of Nandigram under the umbrella of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee against the Left Front regime, at a time when the land movement was picking up steam following outrage over a chemical hub in the region.
When the Left’s iron hand seemed invincible, it was Suvendu Adhikari who managed to defeat CPI(M)’s notorious strongman Lakshman Seth, also consolidating the TMC’s base in the infamous ‘Jangal Mahal’ region i.e. Paschim Medinipur, Purulia, and the Bankura districts.
In addition to him being one of the most popular mass leaders of TMC in the Midnapore Jangal Mahal region, it is to be noted that Suvendu is a member of the powerful Adhikari family of the East Midnapore district.
According to sources, Suvendu is an immensely popular leader in East Midnapore, holding sway over 35 Assembly seats, spanning West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and parts of Birbhum.
What was once a hallmark of strength for the TMC has now come back to haunt the ruling party, once Adhikari made the switch, now making it apparent that his influence has managed to move the public consensus along with him as well.