- Senior leaders Saugata Roy, Sudip Banerjee met Suvendu Adhikari
- "Suvendu is staying with the Trinamool," Mr Roy said after meeting
- Suvendu Adhikari had resigned from Bengal cabinet days ago
In a breakthrough for the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, the rebel former minister Suvendu Adhikari who quit the Mamata Banerjee cabinet last Friday has resolved his differences with the party and will not be resigning from it.
Senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, tasked by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to negotiate truce with the 49-year-old MLA from Nandigram, who appeared to be on the verge of breaking away, said on Tuesday, "Suvendu is staying with the Trinamool. An understanding is reached."
Besides Saugata Roy, senior Trinamool MP Sudip Banerjee was also present at the meeting.
The understanding came after a two-hour-meeting attended, among others, by Mr Adhikari and Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool MP and Mamata Banerjee's nephew.
Mr Banerjee had severely criticised Mr Adhikari at a rally at Diamond Harbour on Sunday. "I have not arrived by parachute or taken a lift to reach where I am," Mr Banerjee said. Without naming Mr Banerjee, Mr Adhikari had earlier accused him of taking a short cut to climb the party hierarchy.
"If I had used a parachute or a ladder, I would not have to fight from tough constituency like Diamond Harbour to become MP. I would have stood from south Kolkata, which is my home constituency," Mr Banerjee had said. "My family and I would also have been holding many posts," he had added in a clear attack on Mr Adhikari.
East Midnapore is Mr Adhikari's turf. He was elected twice to parliament from Tamluk in that district. His assembly seat Nandigram is also in East Midnapore. Mr Adhikari's father and brother are Trinamool Congress MPs. Another brother is chairman of a civic body. Mr Adhikari held three portfolios till he resigned.
After Mr Banerjee's verbal assault on Mr Adhikari, a rapprochement seemed out of the question. To get the rival leaders to sit face to face after the bitter attacks and counter attacks could be described as a feat of negotiation.
Also at the meeting was poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who had gone to Mr Adhikari's home at Kathi, 150 km from Kolkata, to talk but had to return without meeting him.
"There was no deal struck, only an understanding has been reached after talks amongst all of us," Mr Roy said.
Mr Adhikari did not respond to messages on his phone. Mr Roy said he would speak with the media soon about his position.
Trinamool Congress sources say they were prepared to deal with Mr Adhikari's exit in case of the eventuality. But there is no denying that his departure would hurt the party, especially the head of the upcoming assembly elections.
Mr Adhikari had been in charge of the party organisation in several districts including Malda and Murshidabad as well as Purulia and Bankura. He had built a network of party workers, many of whom had been making noises of disaffection after Mr Adhikari appeared to rebel.
Some analysts said Mr Adhikari's departure would have hurt Trinamool Congress in as many as 45 to 50 assembly seats. Others see not more than 30. Not just numbers, his exit would have hit the morale of the party.