Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari, who resigned from the West Bengal cabinet and other posts last month, is set to join the BJP during Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state on December 19-20, according to BJP sources.
During his visit to West Bengal over the weekend, Shah is scheduled to address rallies in at least three districts, including East Midnapore, where Adhikari’s father and two brothers represent two Lok Sabha constituencies and an Assembly seat. Adhikari was elected from Nandigram constituency.
“As of now it is expected that Adhikari will join the BJP at the (East Midnapore) rally,” said a BJP source. However, sources also said that Adhikari had earlier gone back on two dates of joining that he had committed to the party leadership.
Sources said Adhikari is planning to visit New Delhi on Thursday for talks with the BJP leadership.
On Tuesday, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya called up Adhikari to wish him on his birthday, further fuelling speculation. Adhikari’s aides said the decks were being cleared for his formal joining. Sources said he would resign from the TMC’s primary membership on December 17 or 18.
In a fresh attack on Tuesday, Adhikari further distanced himself from the TMC leadership and said “people coming from other states can’t be treated as outsiders”.
He was referring to the “insider-outsider” debate triggered by the TMC leadership to counter the BJP in the Assembly polls due next year. The TMC has often criticised the BJP for sending its leaders from other states to gear up for the Assembly polls.
“Our identity is first that of an Indian and then that of a Bengali,” Adhikari said. Saying that Bengal is very much a part of India, Adhikari said those “coming from other states can’t be treated as outsiders”.
Hitting out at the TMC leadership, Adhikari said: “Why should there be a ‘by the party, for the party, of the party’ rule in Bengal? This is a democracy. We need to restore the rules as per the Indian Constitution which states ‘by the people, of the people and for the people’… I will stand by the people, for the people, and with the people… I will clear my stand soon. The Suvendu Adhikari family is not of just 5-7 people. My family is every village of Bengal…,” he said.
“There are a few people who are trying to malign me by saying I yearned for posts. I want to tell them that they will get a befitting reply in the next assembly polls,” he said.
With Adhikari expressing concern over his safety in the state, senior BJP leaders had met Shah last month to seek enhanced security cover for him. His security has now been upgraded to Z-category.
BJP sources admitted that Adhikari joining the BJP would be a “big gain” for the party in West Bengal. “Unlike many others, Adhikari has a clean image and is considered to be a mass leader. His exit from the TMC government has already hit the party badly. That’s why it has been coaxing him to change his mind,” said a source.
Another BJP leader said Adhikari had “some doubts about joining the BJP as he feared that the Muslim support base in his area could turn hostile”.
BJP sources said Adhikari could influence votes in at least 40 Assembly constituencies in six districts.