Updated: February 13, 2021 9:03:39 am
AMIDST a series of resignations from the Trinamool ahead of the coming West Bengal elections, its Rajya Sabha MP Dinesh Trivedi on Friday dramatically quit the House, claiming he was feeling “suffocated” over “violence in the state”.
The former Union Minister for Railways was speaking during the debate on the Budget when he made the announcement. Listening to the speakers, he had started reflecting and decided to act as per his conscience, Trivedi said. “Why do we come into politics? We come into politics for the country,” he said, adding that the time had come to decide “if the country is bigger, your side is bigger or you yourself are bigger”.
He also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, talking about both the government’s Covid efforts and Modi’s tearful farewell to Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, who retires on February 15. The Trinamool hit out at Trivedi, calling his resignation a “betrayal”.
Asked outside Parliament whether he would be joining the BJP, Trivedi, who has been with the Trinamool since 1998 and was into just the first year of his six-year term in the Rajya Sabha, was ambiguous, saying, “I have joined myself”. He said the Trinamool was now no longer Mamata Banerjee’s party and was being run by a corporate professional, in a hint apparently at strategist Prashant Kishor.
Soon after Trivedi’s resignation, the BJP invited him to join the party. BJP national general secretary and Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya said, “Earlier we had a talk with him and he said he was unhappy and wanted to quit the party.” Speaking in Kolkata, Vijayvargiya added, “Trivedi is a good leader who was feeling suffocated in a party like the Trinamool, which has become a party of the mafia and bua-bhatija. Due to their arrogance, no self-respecting person can remain in the party. If he wants to come to our party, we will welcome him.”
Trinamool sources said that while there had been signs of tension, Trivedi’s announcement caught them by surprise. Party Rajya Sabha deputy leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, “For so many years, he did not say anything. Now all of a sudden, and just months before the state Assembly polls, he has complaints. This shows his true colours. He is ungrateful and has betrayed the trust of the masses.”
Referring to West Bengal during his announcement, Trivedi said “the way there is violence in my state”, he felt strange sitting in the Rajya Sabha. “If you are in a party, you are (bound by) that party discipline. I am grateful to my party that they have sent me here, but now I feel some suffocation. That we are not able to do anything and atrocities are happening,” he said, adding that while he was quitting the Rajya Sabha, he would continue to work for Bengal and the country.
Addressing Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, the Trinamool leader added, “The voice of my soul is saying that if you are sitting here and can say nothing, then it is better that you give a resignation letter and go to Bengal and be with the people there.” Harivansh told him to formally write to the Chairman.
Going on to talk about Modi, Trivedi said, “When Covid happened, the world was watching as to how India would move forward. (It did) Very well, and all together, like the Prime Minister said, 130 crore (of us). But the leadership was his.”
Admitting surprise at Friday’s developments, a senior Trinamool leader said, “There was a feeling that Trivedi was soft on the PM, not forceful enough in Parliament. But he is an old leader, and nothing had been articulated verbally. He did not speak to the party before taking this step.”
The leader added that Trivedi’s leaving would not affect the party. “He lost his Lok Sabha election in 2019, and then was sent to the Rajya Sabha. He is not a mass leader.”
Sekhar Roy said, “Trinamool means grass-roots. This gives us an opportunity to send a grass-roots leader to the Rajya Sabha.”
Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy also hit out at Trivedi. “People like him enjoy power and leave at the time of elections.”
In his remarks on how the Trinamool was being run, Trivedi said, “The situation came to this because whom do I talk to? Nobody has time. When the party goes into the hands of some corporate professional, they run the party. Those who do not know their rajneeti (politics), become our leaders.”
Earlier in the Congress and Janata Party, Trivedi had joined the Trinamool when it was formed by Mamata in 1998, and was one of its first general secretaries. A two-term Lok Sabha MP, Trivedi has had public differences with the Trinamool leadership earlier too, resigning as Railway Minister in 2012 over disagreements on policy with Mamata, after which he was suspended from the party before being reinstated. He has also served as Union Minister for State for Health and Family Welfare.
Trivedi had been picked by the Trinamool for a Rajya Sabha seat in March 2020, after he lost from Barrackpore in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
In recent days, several high-profile leaders have left the Trinamool and joined the BJP, including ministers Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee.
West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said this marked the end of the Trinamool. “It is only a matter of time before it disintegrates.”
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