Rift widens in TMC, Adhikari episode "a closed chapter"

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Garbeta(WB)/Kolkata: The rift between the ruling TMC and Suvendu Adhikari widened on Thursday, with the party describing the rapprochement efforts as a "closed chapter" and the disgruntled leader taking potshots at its top brass.

Adhikari, who had resigned from the Mamata Banerjee cabinet last week, was seen on Thursday holding a rally without the party's banners and flags at Garbeta in West Midnapore district.

The TMC, miffed over developments concerning him, said the party will not make any further efforts to woo him back, party sources said.

The TMC top brass has decided not to take any further initiative to convince Adhikari to remain in the party or address his grievances. The Adhikari episode is now a "closed chapter", they said.

Hitting out at his detractors in the party, he told the rally at Garbeta, "Some people are saying that all my life I have done politics from a comfort zone. But I was the one who used to visit areas of West Midnapore district when no one dared to during the Left Front regime.

"As this village boy has hit the streets, some people living in appartments in Kolkata are having problems," he said at the rally held to mark the birth anniversary of revolutionary Khudiram Bose.

"I want to know whether the people of West Midnapore will stand by me or it," he asked to which the crowd carrying the national flag replied with a thundering "Yes".

In another rally at Tamluk in East Midnapore district, Adhikari said he will continue to serve the people of the state as a "son of Bengal and India".

In an indication that the relationship between Adhikari and the party has reached the "point of no return", MP Sougata Roy, who acted as an interlocutor, said TMC is a big political party with a mass leader like Mamata Banerjee at its helm. "It will not impact if one or two are leaving the party."

"Our party supremo Mamata Banerjee had yesterday instructed us not to initiate any further discussion with him and concentrate on the campaign (for the state poll). Suvendu Adhikari is a closed chapter for the party. If he has something to say, he can. He is on his own now," another senior TMC leader said on condition of anonymity.

According to the party sources, TMC is miffed over Adhikari "doing a somersault" after agreeing on common grounds in the meeting with the party leaders on Tuesday night.

The two-decade-old relationship between the party and Adhikari, the face of TMC's Nandigram movement that added to the political heft of Mamata Banerjee and catapulted her to power, reached a nadir on Wednesday following the impasse in the dialogue. Leaders close to him rejected TMC's claim of a rapprochement with him as "false" and said would be "difficult for him to work with the party".

According to TMC sources, the party had sent Adhikari a message on Thursday morning stating that "the details of the meeting between him, party leaders and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were disclosed after all the issues were discussed and resolved.

"Now if you have changed your stand, it is your decision," the message said.

Roy, asked to comment on the increasing discontent in TMC, said "There is a saying in English that rats desert sinking ships. We all know the fate of the rats that jump into the sea. There are a few who think the TMC has become a weak party and are therefore leaving it.

"They don't know that TMC is strong enough and we will once again form the government in Bengal. We have a leader like Mamata Banerjee with us," he said.

"TMC is a big political party, so if one or two leaders leave the party will not suffer any major impact.

Earlier Mukul Roy had left the party; it did not impact us," he added.

Mukul Roy is now a senior BJP leader.

According to sources in the BJP, the saffron camp is in touch with Adhikari, who apart from East Midnapore wields considerable influence in at least 40-45 assembly segments in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, parts of Birbhum -- mainly in the Junglemahal region and areas in minority-dominated Murshidabad.

The state polls are likely to be held in April-May next year.


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