A day after West Bengal Irrigation and Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari was replaced from the post of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), the Trinamool Congress heavyweight from East Midnapore tendered his resignation as minister from the Mamata Banerjee-led state cabinet.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote on Twitter that Adhikari’s resignation letter from his office as minister was sent to chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a copy of which was forwarded to the Governor’s office as well.
“Today at 1:05 pm a resignation letter of Mr Suvendu Adhikari from office as minister addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Minister has been forwarded to me. The issue will be addressed from the constitutional perspective,” Dhankhar wrote.
The state transport department on Thursday issued a circular saying that Adhikari was replaced by Trinamool Congress MP from Sreerampore in Kolkata’s adjoining Hooghly district Kalyan Banerjee as Chairman of the Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC) – a statutory body under the Government of West Bengal.
The state government circular read: “In exercise of the power conferred by Sub-Section (3) of Section 3 of The Hooghly River Bridge Act, 1969 (West Bengal Act of XXXVI-1969), the Governor is pleased to appoint Shri Kalyan Banerjee, Honourable MP, as the chairman of the HRBC with immediate effect and until further orders.”
Established in 1969, HRBC was mandated with the construction of the iconic Vidyasagar Setu, an engineering marvel over the river Hooghly that was inaugurated in 1992 as the longest cable-stayed bridge in the country.
Speculation was rife for the past few months over the political stand of the Trinamool heavyweight from East Midnapore and party insiders said that Adhikari had developed distance with the Trinamool supremo. With high-voltage West Bengal elections barely a few months away, he had also taken out several public rallies in East Midnapore’s Khejuri under an apolitical banner this week.
Talks between the ruling Trinamool Congress and Adhikari, who has been maintaining a distance from the party, remained inconclusive on Monday. Veteran Trinamool MP Sougata Roy, who has been assigned with the job to hold talks with Adhikari, had met the minister on Monday evening at a place in north Kolkata. The duo held a nearly two-hour-long discussion. This is the second meeting between the two Trinamool leaders in a week.
In 2007, Adhikari had mobilised an anti-land acquisition movement against a proposed chemical hub project by Indonesia-based Salim Growp at Nandigram. The protest was organised under the banner of Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), which saw spiralling protests and bloodshed between disgruntled villagers and CPI-M cadres and the police.
“Suvendu Adhikari has resigned as a minister but he has not resigned from the Trinamool Congress. He has not clarified his political stand so far. We are keeping an eye on every development. If he decides to join the BJP he will be welcomed. We are carrying out political programmes in our own ways and if a leader like him (Suvendu Adhikari) joins us it will definitely get benefited in the days to come,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Dilip Ghosh.
After Adhikari stepped down as minister, Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee called an emergency meeting at her residence.
Sources said that the resignation letter of Adhikari has already been accepted by the CM and she is going to hand over the charge of the two-state government departments — irrigation and transport — to other cabinet members.
The charge of the transport department is likely to go to state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim while state Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee is likely to get the additional responsibility of the irrigation department.
The meeting was called on an emergency basis at Banerjee’s Kalighat residence. Top party leaders, including Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Bakshi, Abhishek Banerjee and Firhad Hakim, are likely to attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, veteran Trinamool Congress leader and the party’s Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy said: “We will continue to hold talks with Suvendu Adhikari on the issue as he has not yet resigned from the party membership and as a Trinamool legislator.”
In another jolt to the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress MLA from Cooch Behar (south) Assembly constituency, Mihir Goswami, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi.
“I have resigned from the Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP. I like to call it a crusade against the immoral activities within the Trinamool and the injustice meted out to the people in the north Bengal districts. I look forward to a new political era in Bengal. I hope people of north Bengal would welcome the decision,” Goswami said after joining the saffron brigade in the national capital.
Goswami had resigned from the Trinamool Congress and quit the primary membership of the party on October 3. He arrived at the BJP’s central office in Delhi with two party leaders from Bengal – Barrackpore BJP MP Arjun Singh and BJP Lok Sabha member from Cooch Behar Nishith Pramanik.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya officially handed over the party flag to Goswami at the BJP office.
“We are really happy to welcome him to the BJP. He is a very senior leader from north Bengal. Goswami will significantly contribute to the expansion of BJP’s organisational base in West Bengal, especially ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections,” Vijayvargiya said. (IANS)