Suvendu Adhikari, BJP’s new acquisition from the Trinamool Congress, thundered on Thursday at a roadshow, reported to be several times bigger than his former party’s rally the day earlier, “is baar, do sau paar”, a reference to BJP crossing 200 seats in upcoming West Bengal state polls and ending Mamata Banerjee’s decadal rule in the state.
Adhikari, who was welcomed into the BJP by Union home minister Amit Shah on December 19, was called a traitor at the Trinamool roadshow and rally at Kanthi at his hometown in Bengal’s East Midnapore district on Wednesday.
So massive was the turnout at Adhikari’s roadshow a day later that the tableau carrying him and some state BJP leaders could move only a few inches a minute and the party’s workers said it might take hours to cover the five-kilometre route leading to the rally ground.
“She [Mamata Banerjee] will come second in the race. Is baar, do sau paar (this time around we will score more than 200),” Adhikari told the local media on his way to the rally ground, repeating Amit Shah and the BJP’s declared goal.
“The TMC need not hold rallies in my district to stop me from going elsewhere in Bengal. The more they attack me the more will be the losses they suffer in East and West Midnapore districts. I will address a rally in West Midnapore on Sunday. My home is Bengal. My country is India,” said Adhikari.
Incidentally, chief minister Mamata Banerjee will soon address a rally at Nandigram, the constituency Adhikari represented till he resigned from the state assembly.
Adhikari’s followers raised a unique slogan, “Hare Krishna Hare Hare, BJP ghare ghare,” implying that the BJP has entered every home with the chant Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 15th Century Hindu saint, introduced for disciples of Lord Krishna.
“Sri Chaitanya spread the message of universal love, hence this slogan. We are paying homage to Purushottam Ram and Sri Chaitanya at the same time,” Adhikari quipped.
The TMC’s rally on Wednesday, which was addressed by Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy and urban development minister Firhad Hakim, was the first the ruling party held in Kanthi town after Adhikari’s defection.
That the TMC has targeted Adhikari as its prime political enemy became evident on Wednesday when clashes took place between BJP and TMC workers in the district’s Ramnagar area. The rally was organised by Akhil Giri, the TMC lawmaker from Ramnagar and a known detractor of Adhikari.
On Tuesday, Adhikari addressed his first rally as a BJP leader alongside the party’s state president Dilip Ghosh in Burdwan district. Accusing the TMC of being involved in smuggling of cows, coal and sand, he said, “If the TMC returns to power it will start an illegal kidney trade as well.”
The Triamool hit back at Adhikari on his home turf.
“Suvendu is no strongman in Bengal politics. He lost the first assembly and Lok Sabha polls. He won his first assembly election from Kanthi South in 2006 but only after his father, the incumbent, vacated the seat. He was given two important portfolios in the cabinet. What more did he want? He is a traitor. Kanthi is not the kingdom of any family,” Saugata Roy had said at the rally.