Each prominent corner of West Midnapore is draped with scores of curious white flags, posters and banners with pictures of Trinamool Congress (TMC) heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari.
In most of these posters and banners with Suvendu’s photographs on them, the group Amra Dadar Anugami (we are elder brother’s followers) is claiming to be the organiser. Who are these leaderless organisers is yet to be known.
The sea of flags, posters, rallies in favour of Suvendu Adhikari – without the TMC symbol and flags – for the past few weeks in the district has prompted people to raise several questions. Who are Amra Dadar Anugami? Are these rallies part of Suvendu’s show of strength to send a message to some TMC leaders in Kolkata? Is he gearing up to play a bigger role in Bengal’s politics while serving the TMC? Or is this TMC’s new strategy to take on the BJP in this coastal belt of Bengal?
There are no clear answers yet but thousands of people rallying for him while wearing t-shirts and holding white flags with his face on them is certainly a strong message that followers of Adhikari from Midnapore are trying to send ahead of the 2021 assembly polls in Bengal.
In the past few weeks there were multiple political rallies at Nandigram, Digha, Egra in East Midnapore and Netai in Jhargram. The rallies were cleverly crafted in the name of containing Covid-19, festive wishes, and other social welfare work under the banner of Amra Dadar Anugami’.
Strikingly in most of the rallies, the official symbol (twin flowers in grass) of the TMC and party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s picture, were missing.
Instead of Banglar Gorbo Mamata or Didi Ke Bolo, the flags and banners say Amra Dadar Anugami, Banglar Bagh (Bengal’s Tiger) and Bengal’s Rising Sun.
As West Bengal is going to witness crucial elections next year, such rallies in favour of an influential TMC leader like Suvendu is certainly going to create more challenges before the ruling Trinamool in West Bengal.
With political strategist Prashant Kishor and Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP from Diamond Harbour constituency and Mamata’s nephew, hitting the ground (as they have already started with North Bengal recently) to strengthen the party, it will be interesting to see how the TMC handles this odd situation.
Suvendu was the key man behind Mamata Banerjee’s movement in Nandigram in East Midnapore in 2007 which helped her end the 34-year rule of the Left Front in Bengal. Over the years, Mamata has also shown her respect towards him and his family members for their dedication towards the party.
Since then, Suvendu has been known as one of the most powerful leaders in the party but insiders said he was not happy with the "attitude" of a few TMC leaders; however, despite that he decided to work hard for the party only on "Mamata’s instructions".
For the past few years, Suvendu had been missing from key party events and rallies.
On April 21, 2017, he didn’t attend the TMC’s organisational meet at Netaji Indoor Stadium, reportedly citing health issues.
In March 2020, he was once again found absent from a party event at the same venue.
Amid media reports over Suvendu’s situation in the TMC, he once again put the party in an uncomfortable position after giving a miss to a government programme in Jhargram on August 9, 2020, to mark the International Day of World's Indigenous People. He was supposed to address an official meet along with state education minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee, but instead he attended another private event at nearby Sido Kanhu Hall at Sialgeria Maidan in the same district.
Suvendu’s absence from crucial party meetings has created discomfort within the TMC as many felt that such a situation may go against them ahead of the assembly polls.
Recently, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that Suvendu is a powerful leader and "all are welcome in the state BJP".
However, despite the hitch, the TMC in recent months has managed to regain lost ground in many booths in Bengal and is hoping for a big win in the 2021 assembly polls to move ahead with its plans for national politics.