'Few people visiting Nandigram after 13 years': Bengal minister hits out at TMC

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Nandigram (WB), Nov 10 (PTI) Amid speculation over his future political move, West Bengal minister Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday took a dig at the ruling TMC for organising simultaneous rally here to mark 'Nandigram Diwas', saying that a few people are visiting the area after 13 years as the assembly elections are approaching.

Adhikari, who has been maintaining a distance from the party's top leadership for the last few months, was addressing a rally to pay respects to martyrs of Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (Land Eviction Resistance Committee), who died on this day in 2007 during the anti-land acquisition movement, and said he would announce his next course of action from a political platform.

The minister also said he would never use the BUPC platform for 'vested political interests'.

'The Nandigram movement was a people's movement. It was not of any particular individual. I have been with the people of Nandigram. After 13 years, a few people are now coming here as the elections are approaching.

'I want to tell them if they are coming before polls, they will have to come after elections too,' Adhikari said at the BUPC rally that did not have posters of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or the TMC flags.

During his speech, the minister did not take names of the party and its supremo, and said he 'never believed in using the platform of BUPC for his political gains'.

'I used to come alone during those days and stood by the people,' he said.

His comments came in the backdrop of the TMC's announcement that it is going to hold a rally here to mark 'Nandigram Divas'.

Posters of the chief minister and the party's flag were seen at the ground where the TMC is scheduled to hold a rally later in the day to mark the 13th 'Nandigram Diwas'.

'Whatever I will have to say regarding my next course of action, I will say from a political platform. I will say everything but not from this pious stage,' he said.

West Bengal minister and senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim, who is scheduled to address the party's rally here said, 'It would have been good had Suvendu addressed the rally under the banner of the TMC.' The BUPC is an organisation which was formed by farmers of Nandigram to oppose the alleged forcible land acquisition for industrialisation by the then Left Front regime.

The TMC, then the principal opposition, had patronised the BUPC and after coming to power, several members of the committee had joined the party.

The land acquisition movements in Nandigram in East Midnapore district and Singur in Hooghly are considered to be two pillars which laid the foundation of the TMC government led by Banerjee in 2011.

Adhikari had played a vital role in TMC's Nandigram movement in 2007, which had helped the party snatch power from the Left Front.

According to TMC sources, Adhikari has been distancing himself from the party for the last few months and organising programmes without the banner of the outfit.

He did not attend several party programmes and the state cabinet meetings in the last few months, they said.

Adhikari has been addressing rallies in different parts of the state and banners with 'Dadar Anugami' (followers of dada) written on them were seen in various parts of East Midnapore district in the last two months.

These rallies that did not have any sign or symbol of the TMC or the chief minister -- unusual for the party's leaders -- have given rise to speculation about his political future.

Apart from East Midnapore district, Adhikari holds sway in about 35 assembly constituencies in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and parts of Birbhum.

Suvendu 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 Kanthi Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. PTI PNT BDC BDC