The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress celebrated its 23rd foundation day on Friday amid fresh setbacks in two of its prestigious citadels in poll-bound West Bengal.
Soumendu Adhikari, former chairman of Kanthi municipality and brother of Suvendu Adhikari, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday. Suvendu, the party’s former MLA from Nandigram in East Midnapore, had defected to the BJP on December 20. Rabindranath Bhattacharya, TMC MLA from Singur, skipped the party’s foundation day celebration in his constituency. It was attended by an MLA from an adjacent constituency.
Singur and Nandigram are prestigious constituencies for the party because mass movements against land acquisition in these two areas during 2006-08 paved the way for Mamata Banerjees’s political resurrection.
“On #TMCFoundationDay, I extend my sincere gratitude to our Maa-Mati-Manush and all our workers who continue to fight with us in making Bengal better and stronger each day. The Trinamool family will carry on with this resolve for times to come! As Trinamool turns 23 today, I look back at the journey we began on January 1st, 1998. Our years have been of immense struggle, but throughout this time we have continued to achieve our objective of being committed to the cause of only the people,” Banerjee tweeted on Friday.
Earlier this week, Suvendu Adhikari had hinted at a BJP rally that all his family members would be joining the saffron party soon.
“Let me tell you that the lotus will bloom in my home. Wait for Ram Navami and Basanti Puja,” Adhikari said on December 29.
Three days later, his brother Soumendu joined the BJP at a rally addressed by Suvendu at Kanthi in East Midnapore. Earlier, Soumendu was removed as the civic board chief by the TMC. He moved the high court against that decision.
“Those who want to leave the party are free to go. Mamata Banerjee had successfully uprooted the 34-year-old Left Front regime. We are not concerned. We would win the polls again fighting under Mamata Banerjee,” said Sheikh Sufian, senior TMC leader and deputy chairman of the East Midnapore zilla parishad.
Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a party old-timer and Singur MLA, had attacked party colleague Becharam Manna, the party MLA from Haripal in the same district. Though Bhattacharya could not be contacted after he skipped Friday’s function, Manna said: “Invitation had been sent to everyone for Friday’s foundation day program. He might have some other commitments. It won’t be right to see such things in bad light especially on the foundation day.”
The TMC faced its first setback in Singur when the opposition BJP got a lead in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Buoyed by its impressive gains in those polls where the party won 18 of 42 seats, the BJP has set a target of winning more than 200 seats in the 294-member legislative assembly.