Cannot work with the party, says TMC rebel Adhikari after talks

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Rebel legislator Suvendu Adhikari on Wednesday informed the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership that it was impossible for him to work for the ruling party, people aware of the matter said. Adhikari sent a text message to TMC leader Saugata Roy saying his problems with the TMC were far from over. He did respond to calls and text messages for comments.

Adhikari’s response came a day after TMC said the legislator told top leaders at a meeting that he would not leave the party. Roy called up chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the middle of the meeting and handed over the phone to Adhikari. “She told him that we all must work together and he agreed,” Roy said on Wednesday.

TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and election strategist Prashant kishor were present at the meeting along with Roy and Sudip Bandopadhyay.

TMC leaders told HT last month that Adhikari was specifically unhappy with Banerjee and Kishor’s organisational decisions. TMC roped in Kishor after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 18 out of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

Adhikari, who was earlier appointed TMC’s election observer, had demanded that leaders of his choice be fielded next year from around 65 assembly seats. This was unacceptable to the leadership.

Adhikari, who resigned from the state cabinet on Friday, and Abhishek Banerjee even took pot shots at each other.

The people cited above said Adhikari has expressed unhappiness that the leadership briefed the media about the talks since it was decided that he would do so at a press conference a few days later.

Adhikari texted Roy about the problems he has had with the party and offered an apology.

“I communicated to you [the media] truthfully whatever happened at the meeting last evening and whatever emerged in the presence of five people present there. If there is any change of mind on the part of Suvendu, it is for him to decide and communicate to the media,” Roy said. “I will not say whether I talked to him after last night’s meeting. Yes, I received his message.”

Asked whether there was a scope for more discussions, Roy said, “I do not see that happening right now if someone has changed his mind.”

On Tuesday, Roy said the talks went extremely well. “Suvendu said he is very much with the party. I invited Abhishek Banerjee and Adhikari to sit for talks. Adhikari will make his position public. I had been saying all along that he would not leave the TMC.”

Roy and Bandopadhyay have been holding talks with Adhikari over the past two weeks on the instructions of Mamata Banerjee.

There has been speculation that Adhikari might join the BJP.