Dinesh Trivedi's exit leaves TMC without key face in Delhi, urban Bengal ahead of bitter electoral battle
Trivedi is likely to cross over to the BJP, with media reports quoting him as saying that joining the BJP would be a 'privilege'
The exit of Dinesh Trivedi from the Trinamool Congress is the latest major jolt for the regional party, as it readies itself for a no-holds-barred electoral contest in West Bengal.
Trivedi is almost certain to join the Bharatiya Janata Party, with media reports quoting him as saying, "I am very grateful to BJP and its senior leaders, I was told they have said that I am welcome. It would be a privilege, no question about it. But, let me settle down."
Speculation is rife that Trivedi may be given a Rajya Sabha seat, according to PTI. Two seats in the Upper House from Gujarat are presently vacant and will go to the polls next month.
With Trivedi leaving the TMC, the party has lost a prominent urban face and a leader who made his mark as a parliamentarian and Union minister.
The TMC has already suffered multiple similar setbacks, in the form of the exits of Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee.
Dinesh Trivedi started his political career in the Congress in the 1980s, then moved on to the Janata Dal, before switching over to the Trinamool Congress in 1998.
He was elected as a member of the Upper House of the Parliament for the first term in April 1990 and for another term in May 2002. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the third time in July 2020, and had over five years remaining in his term.
Trivedi was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009. During the tenure of the UPA-II government, he served first as the Union Minister of State for Health and later as the Minister of Railways. However, in a rather unusual turn of events, he was made to resign as the Union Railway Minister by party chief Mamata Banerjee in March 2012. Banerjee was reportedly upset with Trivedi over his plan to hike train fares announced in the rail budget.
However, Trivedi later contested and won the Lok Sabha election from Barrackpore on a TMC ticket.
Recently, he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Barrackpore to former TMC MLA and BJP candidate Arjun Singh.
As a TMC MP, Trivedi has fiercely attacked the BJP in the past. During a debate on demonetisation in February 2019, he had slammed the note ban and hailed Mamata Banerjee as “today’s Jhansi ki Rani”, as noted by Times Now.
Nevertheless, Trivedi, who has Gujarati roots, has been known to share good personal relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
In January 2015, he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express, "He (Modi) has a vision. Something is changing about the way the world looks at India. That is because of Modi. This is not a time for negativity but to work positively."
Differences with TMC
On Friday, while talking to reporters after submitting his resignation, Trivedi said, "TMC is no longer in Mamata Banerjee's hands. It has been taken over by a corporate professional, who doesn't understand politics. And there is no forum within the party to air our views."
He further said, "I am grateful to my party that it has sent me here (Parliament), but now I feel a little suffocated. We are unable to do anything and there are atrocities (going on). My voice of conscience is saying what Swami Vivekananda used to say — arise, awake, and not stop till the goal is reached."
He also cited 'violence' in West Bengal as a reason for his decision to quit, and was quoted by The Hindu as saying, "I cannot keep quiet when there is corruption in the party and violence on the streets of Bengal. Now when BJP president JP Nadda’s cavalcade was attacked I was condemned by the party because I didn’t condone the violence. Every day I was asked to abuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That is not my value system."
Recently, Trivedi had endorsed Modi's Lok Sabha speech on Twitter, saying:
I am personally in agreement with this. The way forward is to let our young talented mind innovate, create and distribute wealth. Pay Govt levies, create jobs. For that, our Govt officers (babus) too, need to encourage the youth . https://t.co/iyDIP6NR4D
— Dinesh Trivedi (@DinTri) February 10, 2021
Trivedi's disenchantment with the TMC is believed to be rooted in several factors — from tussles with fellow MP Derek O'Brien and disagreements over the party's association with Prashant Kishor's IAPC.
An article in The Print quotes a close associate of Trivedi as saying that he "rued the way in which the Trinamool’s poll strategist had taken over social media accounts of senior party leaders and controlled every political decision".
After the TMC MP announced his sudden resignation from the Rajya Sabha, TMC leaders called Trivedi "ungrateful" and said that he has betrayed the trust of the masses.
TMC Rajya Sabha deputy leader Sukhendu Sekhar Ray was quoted as saying by PTI, "For the last so many years he (Trivedi) did not say anything. Now, all of a sudden just months before the state Assembly poll, he has complaints. This shows his true colours."
Mamata Banerjee's nephew and MP Abhishek Banerjee reacted to Trivedi's departure in an even more acerbic tone, as he said, "Trivedi was saying he was feeling suffocated... let him go and get admitted to BJP's ICU."
While the TMC may seek to downplay the importance of Trivedi abandoning ship, the senior leader's exit may well turn out to be yet another major jolt to the party ahead of the crucial Assembly polls.
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