Rise of a Dada creates flutter in Didi’s TMC

Suvendu Adhikari, the minister in charge of transport and irrigation departments, is the most popular mass leader of the TMC after the party chief Mamata Banerjee

Sudden emergence of ‘Dada brigade’ within the didi’s TMC is sparking political speculations. Photo: @Suvendu_AITC

Hoardings, banners and posters with pictures of Suvendu Adhikari, a senior minister in the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government, started appearing in various districts of the state. Those who put up these ‘intriguing’ displays proclaim themselves as “Amra dadar anugami,” meaning, they are the followers of ‘Dada’.

For the uninitiated, in Bengali ‘Dada’ means elder brother just as elder sister is called ‘Didi.’ State chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is endearingly called “Didi” by her supporters. All publicity materials of the TMC carry pictures of ‘Didi’. The only aberrations are a few posters and banners of Banerjee’s nephew and All India Trinamool Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee.

This sudden emergence of ‘Dada brigade’ within the Didi’s TMC is thus sparking political speculations, increasing concerns of the ruling party ahead of the next year’s assembly elections.

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Suvendu, the minister in charge of transport and irrigation departments, is the most popular mass leader of the TMC after the party chief herself. He has been credited for spurring the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram under the umbrella of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee. Mamata soon made the issue her political raison d’être. The rest, as they say, is history.

Suvendu now represents the Nandigram assembly constituency in the East Midnapore district.

He also hails from a very influential political family. His father Sisir Adhikari is a former Union minister and is currently an MP from Kanthi Lok Sabha constituency in East Midnapore district. The senior Adhikari is a nephew of Bipin Bihari Adhikari, a well-known freedom fighter.

Suvendu’s brother Dibyendu Adhikari is also a TMC MP representing Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency from the same district. The East Midnapore accounts for 16 assembly seats, and is regarded as a stronghold of the Adhikari family.

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Influence of Suvendu is however not restricted to his home district alone. The newly propped up Dada brigade has put up similar posters and banners in neighbouring West Midnapore, Birbhum, Purulia and even far off Siliguri in Darjeeling district.

Siliguri was draped with Suvendu’s posters on Thursday (November 5), the day the chief minister was virtually inaugurating a bus terminus from the state secretariat at Itahar in North Dinajpur, another North Bengal district. Suvendu, as a transport minister, was supposed to inaugurate the terminus, but he chose to skip the programme.

Suvendu though is skipping most government as well as party programmes. He is regularly holding meetings in his home district under the banner of “amra dadar anugami.” The TMC symbol of twin flowers in grass and Mamata’s pictures are conspicuous by their absence in these political rallies the Midnapore strongman is holding for the past few weeks. In some of the posters and banners, the Nandigram MLA has been hailed as ‘Banglar Bagh’ (Bengal’s Tiger) and ‘Rising Sun of Bengal’.

Political messaging in his speeches in these rallies only gives credence to the speculations that Suvendu is preparing ground for his departure from the party. In one such meeting in Digha last month, he, while quoting Swami Vivekananda, said: “This me and myself approach is the very root of all the evil in the world. Only those who believe in the concept of we and ourselves can survive.” The statement was viewed as an oblique reference to unilateralism within the TMC. In another meeting at Purulia he made another loaded statement. “I have neither been parachuted nor have I come up through lift. I have come up the hard way taking the staircase.”

Suvendu could not be reached for his comment, but his father Sishir Adhikari said one should not try to find any political implication into his son’s solo venture. “There is nothing wrong in Suvendu holding separate meetings. But he has never uttered anything against the party or its leader Mamata Banerjee,” he said.

Not many political observers, however, are willing to take the development so lightly. The political grapevine in the state is ripe with speculations that the heavyweight minister would either join the BJP or will float his own party ahead of the assembly elections due in April-May next year.

There are many leaders in both the TMC and the BJP, who are sulking in their respective party, and are expected to switch sides in an opportune time.

TMC’s Barrackpore MLA Shilbhadra Dutta, Cooch Behar South MLA Mihir Goswami and Nakashipara MLA Kallol Khan have become vocal against the party. Most of the disgruntled TMC leaders are unhappy over the interference of poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) in party affairs, allegedly at the behest of Abhishek Banerjee.

At a time when the BJP is trying to poach its leaders, the TMC too is roping in leaders from other parties. On Saturday (November 7), Congress MLA from Baduria Qazi Abdur Rahim joined the ruling party. On the same day former BJP Mahila Morcha vice president Moumita Basu Chakraborty and some retired bureaucrats also joined the TMC.

The TMC is also reportedly in touch with several disgruntled BJP leaders including former state president Rahul Sinha.