The biggest mistake committed by the Indian National Congress in the recent past apart from its decision to stick with the Gandhi family is how easily they let go off a disgruntled Himanta Biswa Sarma to the BJP. Sarma ended up delivering the North East to the BJP which earlier used to be a stronghold of the INC. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has committed a similar folly with Suvendu Adhikari as the former TMC heavyweight is all set to become the BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma in Bengal.
Sarma’s inclusion in the BJP was initially downplayed by the INC. Sarma after being ignored decided to jump ship to the BJP and his accusation of Rahul Gandhi paying more attention to his pet dog during the political meeting will forever be a part of political folklore. Himanta Biswa Sarma rapidly rose through the ranks in the BJP and managed to deliver not only Assam but almost the entire North East which was once an impregnable stronghold of the grand old party.
As a result of Himanta Biswa Sarma going onboard with BJP, despite the alliance between the INC and AIUDF in Assam which will prevent the splitting of minority voters, the saffron party is well placed to retain Assam come Assembly elections next year. The BTC elections saw the BJP and its alliance storm to power with the INC-AIUDF elections being reduced to a single seat. In the Tiwa Autonomous Elections, the BJP absolutely drubbed the Congress as the party won 33 seats out of the 36 that went to polls with its ally, Assam Gona Parishad winning two seats leaving the Congress with a solitary seat. If the current trends hold, the BJP will sweep the Assam Elections in 2021.
Just like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Suvendu Adhikari has a huge mass connect and commendable organisation skills. He was one of the handfuls of leaders in the TMC who didn’t have to rely on Mamata’s popularity and charisma to win elections. Adhikari is also a proven winner as he has won both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections on multiple occasions.
The importance of Suvendu Adhikari when it comes to Bengal politics is enormous. Adhikari is believed to hold sway in 35 Assembly seats which may well prove to be decisive come the elections, much like Himanta Biswa Sarma.
He also played a key role in the Nandigram movement in 2007 which eventually ended the three-decade rule of the Left thereby becoming Mamata’s apple of the eye.
Since then he went from strength to strength and has a proven track record of winning be it the Assembly or the Lok Sabha elections. Over the years he has extended his clout beyond his home district of Purba Medinipur to Jangalmahal — Bankura, Purulia, and Paschim Medinipur districts.
It is important to note that these four districts together constitute 9 Lok Sabha and 63 Assembly seats with his influence also extending to South Bengal especially in Haldia during his stint as the TMC observer.
There was a reason why Suvendu Adhikari was courted by the top TMC leaders ever since he first rebelled in a last-ditch attempt to keep him in the party fold. Alas, all attempts failed as Adhikari joined the BJP in the presence of Amit Shah and may well prove to be the BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma in West Bengal.