Trinamool's Suvendu Adhikari Quits As MLA Amid Reports He Will Join BJP

Last month, Suvendu Adhikari had stepped down from his post in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's cabinet.

Suvendu Adhikari wields considerable influence over the local leaders in some districts (File)

Kolkata:

Trinamool Congress's Suvendu Adhikari quit from Bengal's legislative assembly today, taking another step away from the party against which he openly rebelled last month, quitting the post of minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's cabinet. There is a buzz that the 50-year-old may join the BJP during Union Minister Amit Shah's visit to the state later this week.

The induction of Mr Adhikari in the BJP is expected to the high point of Amit Shah's visit to Bengal this weekend.  The venue is expected to be Medinipur town in West Midnapore district, about 150 km from Kolkata, part of Mr Adhikari's home turf.

The Trinamool has been firefighting to retain Mr Adhikari, who wields influence over the local party leaders in Malda, Murshidabad, Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, where he was the party in-charge.  His split from the party is expected to hit Trinamool in more than 50 seats in the assembly elections slated for next year.

After he quit the ministry, the party had rushed senior leader Sougata Roy to reason with him. Mr Roy had even managed to get Mr Adhikari to meet with his bete noire in the party, Trinamool MP and Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor had been present at the meeting, which Sougata Roy had declared a success.  But the very next day, Mr Adhikari texted Roy to say "Excuse me, I cannot work like this anymore".

Mr Adhikari -- one of Mamata Banerjee's trusted aides -- had been upset after the induction of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee into the party and his subsequent rise. Over the last month, the two had exchanged jibes.

Ms Banerjee's words at a poll rally last week had hinted at a parting.

"We will stand with the people and fight with them. That is our promise. Who is bigger than who in the party should not be the issue. After profiting from the party for 10 years, after profiting from being part of the government, to hobnob with this and that party... I will not tolerate such people," Ms Banerjee had said.