Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress suffered a setback as one of its senior-most members Suvendhu Adhikari resigned from the party and another MLA Jitendra Tiwari stepped down from a key post.
The politics of poll-bound West Bengal heated up further on Thursday after former state minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) heavyweight Suvendhu Adhikari resigned from the party’s primary membership. A day earlier, Suvendhu Adhikari had resigned as an MLA.
His resignation was soon followed by TMC MLA Jitendra Tiwari stepping down as the chief of Asansol Municipal Corporation. Tiwari’s resignation comes days after he accused the Mamata Banerjee government of depriving Asansol of central funds for “political reasons”.
Meanwhile, the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government were at loggerhead once again on Thursday over the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) fresh letter asking the state government to relieve three IPS officers for central deputation.
The MHA in its letter to the state government said it must relieve the three IPS officers because they have already been given new assignments. Reacting sharply to this, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said this was a blatant misuse of power and her government will not cow-down before “expansionist” and “undemocratic” forces.
Here are the top 10 developments from West Bengal:
1) Thursday was another setback for the ruling TMC in West Bengal as one of its senior-most members, Suvendhu Adhikari, resigned from the party’s primary membership. His resignation came a day after he quit as an MLA.
Adhikari was the face of the Nandigram movement that added to the political heft of Mamata Banerjee and catapulted her to power in Bengal in 2011. He sent his resignation letter to Mamata Banerjee in the afternoon.
Speculations are rife that he may join the BJP on Saturday during an event that will he attended by Union home minister Amit Shah.
2) Besides Suvendhu Adhikari’s resignation, TMC’s troubles have also increased with the resignation of party MLA Jitendra Tiwari as the chief of Asansol Municipal Corporation.
Jitendra Tiwari, the TMC’s Paschim Bardhaman district president, also lauded Suvendu Adhikari as the second-most important leader of the party after Mamata Banerjee.
“I have resigned from the post of the chairman of the Board of Administrators of Asansol Municipal Corporation. If I am not allowed to work, what will I do with the post? So, I have resigned,” he said.
Reports suggest that Jitendra Tiwari is likely to meet Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Friday. On Wednesday, he is learnt to have met Suvendu Adhikari at TMC MP Sunil Mandal’s residence.
3) Meanwhile, the MHA on Thursday sent a fresh letter to the West Bengal government, asking it to immediately relieve three IPS officers who have been sought for central deputation. The MHA argued that IPS Cadre rules state that in case of a dispute between the Centre and a state, it is the Centre that shall prevail.
4) The MHA also argued that the three IPS officers have already been given new assignments, and hence must be relieved for central deputation. The three officers are Bholanath Pandey (SP, Diamond Harbour), Praveen Tripathi (DIG, Presidency Range) and Rajeev Mishra (ADG, South Bengal). They were responsible for the security of BJP president JP Nadda during his December 9-10 visit, during which some vehicles in his convoy were pelted with stones in Diamond Harbour.
5) Responding to the MHA’s letter, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government will not cow-down before “expansionist” and “undemocratic” forces.
6) Mamata Banerjee said the MHA’s letter is “blatant misuse of power” and that this was a “deliberate attempt” by the Centre to encroach upon the state’s jurisdiction and demoralise the serving officers in West Bengal.
“This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It’s unconstitutional and completely unacceptable,” she said.
7) In another development related to the state, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) today announced it will contest the West Bengal assembly polls. The party said it will field candidates from 75 seats.
8) JD(U) national general secretary Ghulam Rasool Baliyavi said the party’s unit in West Bengal wants to contest at least 75 seats and the number could go up, subject to the approval of the leadership. “We have contested assembly elections in West Bengal in the past. We would like to do so this time also. Our party has carried out massive membership drives in districts such as Malda, Murshidabad, Purulia and Bankura,” Baliyavi said.
9) Meanwhile, to strengthen its campaign in the state, the BJP has deployed seven senior party leaders who will each be given six Lok Sabha constituencies to work in. The seven leaders will be reporting to BJP president JP Nadda, Union home minister Amit Shah and senior BJP leader BL Santosh.
The seven leaders are Gajendra Shekhawat, Sanjeev Balyan, Prahlad Patel, Arjun Munda, Mansukh Mandaviya, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Narottam Mishra.
All these leaders will attend a meeting on December 19 chaired by Amit Shah during his two-day visit to West Bengal.
10) As Bengal witnesses a high-pitched campaign in the run-up to the assembly election, Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain held meetings with district officials to review poll preparedness across the state.
Quoting unnamed sources, PTI reported that Jain will be interacting with government officials over the next two days. He is also likely to coordinate with health officials to find out about the Covid-19 safety measures that need to be put in place during the poll process.
Prior to the Deputy Election Commissioner’s visit, the BJP had alleged that free and fair elections cannot be held under the state administration. The party had sought deployment of central forces in the run-up to the elections. These allegations were rubbished by the ruling TMC, saying the BJP would keep looking for such excuses as it would need them to justify its electoral reverses later.