It was a tale of two sets of rallies in Nandigram – 5 km apart. The political distance echoed in addresses by TMC leader and state minister Suvendu Adhikari, and his Cabinet colleague Firhad Hakim.
Taking a dig at TMC leaders, Adhikari said, “They are coming to Nandigram before elections. What do you do after elections?”
He was addressing two gatherings to mark the 13th anniversary of ‘Nandigram Dibas’ at Tekhali More and Chowrangi Bazar. Like his previous public gatherings, these rallies also did not have TMC banners or Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s photos on placards.
On TMC’s hurriedly called rallies, the transport minister asked, “Where were you in the last 13 years?… A known Brahmin does not need the sacred thread to establish his identity.”
Five km away in Hazra Kata and Hossainpur, Hakim and minister Purnendu Bose questioned Adhikari’s previous remarks that he does not owe his political career to anyone. “Nobody has used the elevator to move up. We have climbed up step by step, but those steps have been built by Mamata Banerjee… Those who are opposing Banerjee are strengthening the BJP,” said Hakim.
Adhikari has of late not attended Cabinet or TMC meetings, giving rise to speculation that he may float a party or join the BJP ahead of Assembly polls. A political heavyweight in East Midnapore district, he wields influence in at least 35 Assembly constituencies in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and Birbhum districts.
Adhikari was one of the prominent faces behind the TMC-led Nandigram movement in 2007, which played a vital role in the then Left government’s downfall. Fourteen people were killed in police firing during a protest against land acquisition for a special economic zone.
Adhikari on Tuesday refused to reveal his next political course. “They want to hear me talk about the roadblocks I am facing and the path I am going to take. I will not announce my political programme from this sacred platform. I will speak from a political platform.”