Suvendu Adhikari
Suvendu AdhikariIANS (File photo)

Dissident minister Suvendu Adhikari quits Mamata cabinet

Kolkata, November 27, 2020

A day after West Bengal Irrigation and Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari was replaced from the post of Chairman of the Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC), the Trinamool Congress heavyweight from East Midnapore on Friday tendered his resignation as minister from the Mamata Banerjee-led state cabinet.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote on Twitter that Adhikari's resignation letter from his office as minister was sent to chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a copy of which was forwarded to the Governor's office as well.

"Today at 1:05 pm a resignation letter of Mr. Suvendu Adhikari from office as minister addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Minister has been forwarded to me. The issue will be addressed from the constitutional perspective," Dhankhar wrote.

The state transport department on Thursday issued a circular saying that Adhikari was replaced by Trinamool Congress MP from Sreerampore in Kolkata's adjoining Hooghly district Kalyan Banerjee as Chairman of the Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC) - a statutory body under the Government of West Bengal.

The state government circular read: "In exercise of the power conferred by Sub-Section (3) of Section 3 of The Hooghly River Bridge Act, 1969 (West Bengal Act of XXXVI-1969), the Governor is pleased to appoint Shri Kalyan Banerjee, Honourable MP, as the chairman of the HRBC with immediate effect and until further orders."

Established in 1969, HRBC was mandated with the construction of the iconic Vidyasagar Setu, an engineering marvel over the river Hooghly that was inaugurated in 1992 as the longest cable-stayed bridge in the country.

Speculation was rife for the past few months over the political stand of the Trinamool heavyweight from East Midnapore and party insiders said that Adhikari had developed distance with the Trinamool supremo. With high-voltage West Bengal elections barely a few months away, he had also taken out several public rallies in East Midnapore's Khejuri under an apolitical banner this week.

Talks between the ruling Trinamool Congress and Adhikari, who has been maintaining a distance from the party, remained inconclusive on Monday. Veteran Trinamool MP Sougata Roy, who has been assigned with the job to hold talks with Adhikari, had met the minister on Monday evening at a place in north Kolkata. The duo held a nearly two-hour-long discussion. This is the second meeting between the two Trinamool leaders in a week.

In 2007, Adhikari had mobilised an anti-land acquisition movement against a proposed chemical hub project by Indonesia-based Salim Growp at Nandigram. The protest was organised under the banner of Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), which saw spiralling protests and bloodshed between disgruntled villagers and CPI-M cadres and the police.

"Suvendu Adhikari has resigned as a minister but he has not resigned from the Trinamool Congress. He has not clarified his political stand so far. We are keeping an eye on every development. If he decides to join the BJP he will be welcomed. We are carrying out political programmes in our own ways and if a leader like him (Suvendu Adhikari) joins us it will definitely get benefited in the days to come," said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Dilip Ghosh.


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