Dinesh Trivedi took to announcing his resignation from the Trinamool Congress on the floor of the Rajya Sabha on Friday, while participating in the debate on the Union Budget 2020-21. Trivedi, a Brahmin himself, was quite the upper caste vote catcher for Mamata Banerjee. His exit from the TMC, although not particularly surprising, has still caught the nation’s attention due to him announcing the same during his speech in the Rajya Sabha – where Mamata Banerjee facilitated his entry despite him losing the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Barackpore. Dinesh Trivedi was the most important TMC leader cum party foot soldier from the word go.
However, the former Railways Minister revealed in the Rajya Sabha that he was feeling suffocated in a party he and a handful others like him, including Mamata Banerjee founded. In interviews with some media outlets, the TMC stalwart took to revealing that the TMC’s soul was no longer in the cadre or the fundamental ethos with which the party was founded, but had instead shifted in the hands of some “corporate consultants”, in an apparent jibe at I-PAC chief Prashant Kishor.
“We formed the party (Trinamool) together. Mamata Banerjee, Ajit Panja, Mukul Roy, myself. That was the soul of the party. We even struggled for 5,000 to 7,000 to 10,000 to buy a ticket to go to Delhi. Today that soul, that aatma is gone. If you give 100 crores to a consultant…On one hand you say you are a poor party and on the other, you give hundreds of crores to a consultant,” he told NDTV.
The importance of Dinesh Trivedi is often underplayed due to his visible friction with Mamata Banerjee over the past few years. Yet, the fact that Mamata Banerjee decided to send Trivedi to the Rajya Sabha despite him losing his 2019 bid to enter the Lok Sabha speaks volumes about the value which came attached with the founding member of the TMC. After storming to power in West Bengal in 2011, Mamata Banerjee had quit her post of the Union Railway Minister. And who did she choose as her successor? None other than Dinesh Trivedi. Trivedi was trusted with the most important portfolio acquired by TMC, he was indeed second to no one but Mamata.
However, Dinesh Trivedi’s 2012 Railway Budget was visionary and pathbreaking, and it came with an added cost on consumers, to reduce the Railways’ annual losses. But as such, train ticket prices saw a rise – a sin for populist leader Mamata Banerjee. That one of her own had done such a travesty was unbearable for her, which is why she wrote to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and got Trivedi removed from the post. However, why was Trivedi chosen as Railway Minister after Mamata in the first place?
For the simple fact that the post has historically remained one of the most important ones in the Union Cabinet, with its own budget. Not just the Union Cabinet, running the Indian Railways is no joke, while the ministry has a history of being traded for alliances with regional parties, and only the supremos of their party have taken over the public sector juggernaut, and push populist schemes. Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Ram Vilas Paswan – only the most important of leaders have got their hands on the Railway Ministry. Dinesh Trivedi is one of them, proving that he too was one of the most important leaders of the TMC, who will now most likely jump ship to the BJP.
Being the master orator, and election strategist that he is, Dinesh Trivedi quitting the TMC comes as the latest shock to Mamata Banerjee – a gigantic one at that. Already reeling under the pressure of an unending exodus of leaders to the BJP, the TMC’s electoral fortunes in the state of West Bengal are shrinking with each passing day. Dinesh Trivedi’s exit from the party is not just a major loss for Mamata Banerjee, but also a real-time indicator of the political winds blowing in BJP’s favour in the poll-bound state.
Despite growing differences with Trivedi, Banerjee could not muster the coverage to sack him from the party, which again speaks about his stature within the TMC and in Bengal. For the BJP, Dinesh Trivedi’s exit from the TMC couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. His exit proves that there is no place for ‘outsiders’, particularly Gujaratis in the Mamata Banerjee and PK-run TMC. Yet, tremors of his exit after Suvendu Adhikari, are now going to shake up the very foundations of the Ma, Mati, Manush party.