I am an elected leader, neither selected nor nominated : Suvendu Adhikari

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Haldia (WB), Nov 18 (PTI) West Bengal minister Suvendu Adhikari, who is maintaining a distance from the ruling TMC and the state cabinet, Wednesday said he has come up through hard work and is an elected leader, not a selected or nominated one - a comment which did not go down well with the party's top brass.

Adhikari, one of the most influential mass leaders of TMC in Midnapore and tribal Jangalmahal region in the state said at a programme by a cooperative here that he has been elected as its chairman and is neither nominated nor a selected leader, unlike many others.

Many in the TMC believe that his comment was aimed at a senior TMC leader and MP.

'I have come up through hard work. I am an elected leader. I am neither nominated nor a selected or a nominated leader, he said.

All eyes are now on the rally that he is scheduled to address in the district on Thursday.

TMC leader of East Midnapore district, Akhil Giri asked Adhikari to divulge whom he was referring to in his speech.

'Instead of making comments which weakens the party (TMC), he (Adhikari) should come out clean about whom he was referring to,' Giri said.

According to TMC sources, Adhikari, who holds the portfolio of the state transport department, has been maintaining a distance with the party's leaders and has given several important party meetings a miss. He has also stayed away from cabinet meetings.

The TMC has opened back channel talks with Adhikari and is trying to address his grievances in order to retain him in the party, sources in the party said.

Apart from East Midnapore district from where he hails, Adhikari influences about 35 assembly constituencies in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram districts which fall in the Jangalmahal area and in parts of Birbhum district.

This assumes significance as the state polls are due in April-May 2021 when Banerjee will seek to return to power for the third consecutive term.

He is a member of the powerful Adhikari family of East Midnapore district. His father Sisir Adhikari and younger brother Dibyendu Adhikari are TMC MPs from Tamluk and the Kanthi Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.

Adhikari had played a vital role in TMC''s Nandigram movement in 2007 which had helped the party come to power by defeating the Left Front in 2011. PTI PNT KK KK KK