The BJP wants dissident Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari on board along with a bunch of others during the upcoming visit of Amit Shah to the state though a deal with the former state minister is impeded over a “position befitting his stature.”
The buzz within the BJP is that a section of state leaders wants Adhikari, who was a mascot of the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram that propelled the TMC to power in 2011, to be the party’s chief ministerial face.
A close aide of Adhikari also claimed that the TMC heavyweight leader was sounded about the proposition but a deal in this regard could not be sealed yet apparently due to opposition from the BJP’s old guards.
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“The BJP has not yet been able to make a concrete offer to dada (as Adhikari is addressed by his aides and supporters) because of their inability to resolve the leadership issue,” the aide said, adding that a final call is expected within a week.
In public, however, both the BJP and the Adhikari camp are tight-lipped about their future course of action. But the buzz about BJP mulling Adhikari’s name for the possible CM face gains some credibility following the BJP’s change of policy on projecting CM’s face.
Senior party leader and BJP Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya in August had made it clear that the party would go to the Bengal assembly elections next year without projecting anyone as its chief ministerial face.
“The chief minister will be chosen by the elected legislators of the party after winning the elections,” Vijayvargiya had said.
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In November when it became apparent that Adhikari had been distancing himself from the TMC, the BJP changed its earlier position.
At a press conference in Kolkata on November 6, when Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Shah was asked who among BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and Adhikari would be the party’s CM face, he quipped suggestively, “Why stop at just these two names? Talks are on with many. The list is long. Just wait and watch.”
Shah is likely to visit the state again on December 19-20. The BJP leadership wants to hand over the party flag to some top guns, including Adhikari, from the TMC during the visit.
The state’s Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee and Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pande are also reportedly in touch with the BJP for a switchover.
Besides, there are at least five other legislators and several district leaders who are contemplating to desert the TMC before the elections, BJP sources said. Two weeks ago, TMC MLA from Cooch Behar district Mihir Goswami joined the BJP.
“Those who are in touch with the BJP are free to leave the party. I can create more such leaders,” TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee reportedly told a party meeting last week as her party stares at a major split ahead of assembly elections due in less than six months time.