TMC Resignations : A Look at Deserters As Bengal Nears Assembly Polls

West Bengal – Over the past six months, the ruling Trinamool Congress has faced a series of desertions who have jumped the ship and joined the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing the TMC of “organisational mismanagement”, ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections due this year.

As of now, some of the TMC’s prominent faces are playing leading roles in the BJP’s Bengal campaign—former railway minister and Mamata’s right-hand-man Mukul Roy, former minister Suvendu Adhikary, MPs Saumitra Khan and Arjun Singh, former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, and Rajarhat MLA Sabyasachi Dutta, to name a few.

Although the TMC has lost a handful of its MLAs, most of those who have quit the party were at the district or booth levels struggling to get a ticket from the party.

Suvendu Adhikari

The most prominent of the resignees is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s former confidante Suvendu Adhikari quit the Trinamool Congress, a party he was associated with for decades, and resigned from the Bengal Cabinet back in December. Suvendu joined the BJP in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his Midnapore rally.

The West Bengal political heavyweight, Suvendu, joined the BJP along with nine MLAs of different parties and a TMC MP, ending weeks of speculation. He has also resigned as an MLA from Nandigram, but it is yet to be accepted.

In an open letter addressed to the grassroots members of the Trinamool Congress, he had said West Bengal is standing at a critical juncture as the people of the state are destined to make a choice in the 2021 Assembly elections that will impact them forever. Adhikari said that “an extremely deep rot and malaise” has set in in the Trinamool Congress.

Soumendu Adhikari

Soon after Suvendu quit the TMC, his brother and the party’s former administrator Soumendu Adhikari joined the saffron party along with 15 other councillors. Suvendu handed over party flags to the councillors at a programme.

“Soumendu has a long political career ahead of him. He has worked hard all these years… and the same goes for the other councillors. The Adhikari family is no longer with the party of Pishi-Bhaipo (TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and nephew Abhisek Banerjee),” he said.

Sisir Adhikari

On January 14, a day after he was removed as the East Midnapore district President, veteran TMC MP Sisir Adhikari, father of Suvendu Adhikari, hinted at a possible switchover to the saffron camp by saying “nothing is impossible in politics”. He, however, said he is yet to take a call on the matter, but noted that he will discuss the issue with the party supremo Mamata Banerjee.

Rajib Banerjee

Hours after former West Bengal minister and a disgruntled TMC leader Rajib Banerjee quit the Banerjee’s party, he joined the BJP after a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. BJP in-charge of West Bengal Vijayvargiya had also spoken to Banerjee, a former forest minister who represented the Domjur assembly seat. Banerjee has already resigned as an MLA.

On January 22, Rajib Banerjee resigned from Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet. He claimed that he wanted to quit the party in 2018 after he was removed from the state irrigation department without any consultation. Addressing the media in front of the Raj Bhawan, a teary-eyed Banerjee had said, “I never thought that one day I have to take this decision. I was hurt when Mamata Banerjee removed me from the irrigation department without any consultation.”

Dipak Haldar

Spelling trouble for the Another Trinamool Congress legislator from Diamond Harbour in West Bengal’s South 24-Parganas district Dipak Haldar resigned from the state’s ruling formation on Monday, a day ahead of Bharatiya Janata Party’s newly-inducted leader Suvendu Adhikari’s mega rally in the district. Haldar tendered his resignation by speed post to the Trinamool Congress’ state headquarters at Topsia.

Speculation is rife that he might join the BJP at a rally that is scheduled to be held at Baruipur on Tuesday, IANS reported.

Haldar was known to be a close associate of rebel TMC leader and former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chattopadhyay who also defected to BJP in Bengal. The two-time Trinamool lawmaker is from Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla

Former cricketer and ex-West Bengal Minister of State (MoS) for Sports and Youth Affairs Laxmi Ratan Shukla who resigned from the Mamata Banerjee-led state cabinet and left the TMC said he is taking a break from politics.

Addressing a press conference, Shukla said: “I’ve done politics as honestly as I’ve played cricket. My identity as a cricketer is the most fundamental. For now, I’ll focus on sports. I’ll complete my term as MLA. Since I’m going to take a break from politics, the question of joining a party doesn’t arise.”

Other Leaders

Former TMC leaders Baishali Dalmiya, Prabir Ghoshal, Rathin Chakraborti and actor Rudranil Ghosh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, along with Rajib Banerjee, in Delhi. TMC MP Sunil Mondal and TMC MLA Arindam Bhattacharya have also left the TMC; barring Shukla, the other two have joined the BJP.

Satabdi Roy

Birbhum MP Satabdi Roy has resigned from the Tarapith Vikash Parishad amid an ongoing exodus from the TMC. Roy hinted that she is having problems with the ruling party in West Bengal and may take a “decision” on Saturday. The actor-turned-politician, in a Facebook post, claimed that she is not being informed about party events in her constituency and this has caused “mental pain” to her.

The TMC has so far tried to put up a brave face whenever its leaders switched sides, maintaining that the desertions would not hurt the party. The TMC cites two reasons—the party contests elections in Mamata Banerjee’s name and every candidate wins because of her appeal, and those leaving the party had already remained inactive for a while, allowing the party to find suitable replacements.