After his shock resignation from the Trinamool Congress on Friday, Dinesh Trivedi said he "did not need an invitation to join the BJP" and added there was "nothing wrong" if he did end up in that party. He pulled no punches when it came to his soon-to-be-ex party boss Mamata Banerjee.
On Friday afternoon, Dinesh Trivedi, who had been among the prominent faces of the Trinamool in Delhi, announced his resignation in the Rajya Sabha, complaining about the state of affairs in Bengal. There was instant speculation that he was on his way to the BJP, like several others who defected from the Trinamool ahead of the Bengal election in two months.
"Dinest Trivedi does not need to wait for an invitation. They are all friends, not from now. The Prime Minister is a great friend. Amitbhai (Amit Shah) is a great friend for many, many years. I could have gone...I could have just walked in. And there is nothing wrong. Tomorrow if I join the BJP, there is nothing wrong in it," said the 70-year-old, not denying the BJP rumours in an interview to NDTV.
"If they (BJP) are welcoming me, which I heard, I am grateful to them. If everywhere people have accepted them, then they are doing something right for the country," he said, using words sure to be a deal-breaker for Mamata Banerjee, who has been campaigning aggressively against the BJP and its leadership in the run-up to the Bengal election.
Mr Trivedi doubled down on his allegations earlier on Friday about the Trinamool overrun by "corporates", his pejorative for poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his outfit I-PAC, recruited by Mamata Banerjee to manage her election campaign.
"We formed the party (Trinamool) together. Mamata Banerjee, Ajit Panja, Mukul Roy, myself. That was the soul of the party. We even struggled for 5,000 to 7,000 to 10,000 to buy a ticket to go to Delhi. Today that soul, that aatma is gone. If you give 100 crores to a consultant...On one hand you say you are a poor party and on the other, you give hundreds of crores to a consultant," he said.
"Mamata Banerjee didn't need a consultant to defeat the Left? Gandhi never required any consultant? I am not demeaning the importance of that but they can't own the party; they have become owners of party, they have become bigger than the party," he remarked.
Was his decision linked to a communication gap with Mamata Banerjee?
Mr Trivedi said he was certain that the Bengal Chief Minister knew what he thought. "She also knew I don't support this kind of culture...But there was no opportunity to talk. For example on the kisan (farmer protests) - I don't think five of us got together and said ok, what should be done...It was just go to the well of the house...so everybody went to the well of the house. That's not the way," he said.
"In politics you cannot be a boss and a karamchari (worker). She always says I want to keep our head up. We don't want to keep our heads down...we also need to keep our head up.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...If the mind is full of fear and the head is in the gutter, then that's not Rabindranath Tagore's culture? My head, like hers, has been held high, but not with ego..."
The resentment had been brewing for some time. In December, the rift came out in the open when Mr Trivedi was criticized by his party colleagues for condemning an attack on BJP president JP Nadda's convoy near Kolkata. He alleged that he was "being forced to say that PM Modi orchestrated the attack".
Mr Trivedi is the latest to exit the Trinamool after a virtual exodus in the last two months. Another parliamentarian, Sunil Mondal, joined the BJP at the same time as former Bengal minister Suvendu Adhikari. His brother, Dibyendu, also a Trinamool MP, may also jump ship.