Dinesh Trivedi quits Trinamool Congress and as member of the Rajya Sabha, and is likely to join the BJP

Published : February 12, 2021 21:24 IST

Dinesh Trivedi after resigning from the Trinamool Congress and as member of the Rajya Sabha, in New Delhi on February 12. Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI

In a major embarrassment for the ruling Trinamool Congress, Dinesh Trivedi, one of its most senior party leaders and former Railway Minister, announced his resignation from the Rajya Sabha in a dramatic fashion in Parliament itself. He alleged that the atmosphere within the Trinamool was “suffocating” and it was not possible for him to continue working. Dinesh Trivedi’s praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ‘liking’ and re-tweeting one of the Prime Minister’s tweets has also led to speculation that he too will be among the long line of Trinamool leaders who have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Announcing his resignation in the Rajya Sabha, Dinesh Trivedi said, “My birthplace is the land of Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, Khudiram…. Essentially my commitment is to my birthplace and nothing else, and I cannot tolerate [the situation] anymore…. I am grateful to my party for sending me here, but I am feeling suffocated. I am not being able to do anything. On the other hand, atrocities are being committed out there…. Today my conscience is telling me that if there is nothing I can do or say here, then it is better that I tender my resignation and go back to Bengal and work for the people.”

The development appears to have taken even the Trinamool leadership by surprise. Lok Sabha MP Sougata Roy said, “Doing something like this just before the elections is not a good thing. Last Sunday I sat next to him on the flight to Delhi, I did not think his grievances were so extreme. He did what he did, but I am saddened by it.” The BJP, on the other hand, said Dinesh Trivedi was welcome to join the party. Kailash Vijayvargiya, national general secretary of the BJP and the party’s central observer for West Bengal, said, “In Bengal’s politics, those who are good and honourable and want to work for the country, State and the society, are not given any respect in the Trinamool. Due to the arrogance of Pishi and Bhaipo (aunt and nephew – a reference to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee), no person with self-respect will be able to continue in the Trinamool. I feel Dinesh ji stayed for too long…. One thing has become evident —anybody who wants development in Bengal and wants to work for the good of Bengal is joining the BJP. The message is loud and clear — the Trinamool is on its way out and the BJP is coming. If Dineshji wants to join the BJP he will be welcome.”

Dinesh Trivedi was removed unceremoniously as Railway Minister in 2012 at the instance of Mamata Banerjee. At that time Trinamool was a part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre and Mamata was upset when Dinesh Trivedi announced a hike in passenger fares in the Railway Budget. Mamata had him replaced by her then right-hand man Mukul Roy. Mukul Roy joined the BJP in November 2017. According to party insiders, the humiliation faced by Dinesh Trivedi rankled in him for a long time. However, there were never any signs of discord, and when he lost in the 2019 Lok Sabha election he was sent to the Rajya Sabha by his party in 2020.

Amit Shah's promises

While the BJP appears to be methodically breaking up the Trinamool structure, it is also wooing the electorate with promises on different fronts. Union Home minister Amit Shah criticised Mamata Banerjee for not implementing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna, which would have given farmers in the State Rs.6,000 directly in their bank accounts. He said the BJP, once it came to power, would pay them all three instalments amounting to Rs.18,000. “You made Mamata ji the Chief Minister, but she stopped you from getting Rs.6,000. But do not worry, allow the BJP to form the government, and you will be given not only the Rs.12,000 that you missed, but also Rs.6,000 for the next year — Rs.18,000,” said Shah on February 11 at a public rally in Bengal.

Referring to a recent central government function in which Mamata expressed her annoyance in front of Narendra Modi at chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ being directed at her, Shah made another promise at the rally: “You [Mamata] get angry at the chant of Jai Shri Ram because of your appeasement policy aimed at getting the votes of a particular community…. I promise you [the crowd] by the time the elections end, Mamata didi will also be chanting Jai Shri Ram.”

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