I am Indian first, Bengali later: Suvendu Adhikari

Trinamool Congress leader Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday targeted his partyโ€™s political stand terming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as outsider (bahiragat) party clearly indicating that his departure from the party is a matter of days.

Mr. Adhikari, who addressed a non-political rally at his home turf Haldia at Purba Medinipur district, made several political comments obliquely referring to the TMC.

These remarks by the dissident TMC leader comes days ahead of the proposed visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to West Bengal, triggering fresh speculation about Mr. Adhikari joining the BJP in the coming days.

โ€œOur biggest identity is that we are Indian first, after that we are Bengalis … Satish babu (freedom fighter Satish Samanta) never called Nehruji (Jawaharlal Nehru) outsider and Nehruji never called him a non-Hindi speaking person. This is what India is all about,โ€ Mr. Adhikari said at the rally.

Referring to the Nandigram movement, Mr. Adhikari said it is not movement of the individual but a movement of the people.

He also said that those making personal attacks on him will suffer the same fate of CPI(M) leaders Lakshman Seth and Anil Basu.

โ€œThe Suvendu family is a family of not five to seven people. My family is every village of Bengal who eat plain fermented rice (panta bhaat),โ€ Mr. Adhikari said, adding that even after resigning from the Cabinet on November 27, people are coming to his rallies which indicates they are with him.

During the day, supporters of Mr. Adhikari celebrated his 50th birthday at various places in the city. Senior BJP leader and observer for the State, Kaliash Vijayvargiya also called up Mr. Adhikari to wish him.

Earlier in the day Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also targeted dissenters in the Trinamool Congress.

โ€œI will not tolerate those who were with the party and government for 10 years and now, with elections round the corner, are reaching out to another party,โ€ Ms. Banerjee said at a rally in Jalpaiguri in north Bengal on Tuesday.

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