Suvendu Adhikari said on Thursday that he has made the right decision to join the BJP and the move has people's approval. Leading a mammoth roadshow in his home ground Kanthi, Adhikari also announced that he will address a rally in Nandigram on January 8, a day after a similar programme is likely to be held by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"The roadshow has shown that I have made the right decision and have the people's approval," he said.
The roadshow took nearly three hours to cover the 5-km distance from Mecheda bypass to the Central Bus Stand, where he addressed a public meeting. It started around 2.30 pm and ended at 5.30 pm as thousands of people caused the roads of this small town in the Purba Medinipur district to choke.
"You (Mamata Banerjee) are most welcome to come to Nandigram on January 7 and I will reply to what you will say there on the next day," Adhikari said, addressing his first rally in his home base as a BJP leader.
Adhikari claimed that Banerjee has never gone to Nandigram on January 7, March 14 or November 10, the days that mark the turning points in the Nandigram movement of 2007 against the then Left Front government.
The former TMC leader is considered the backbone of the movement in Nandigram that played a crucial role in Mamata Banerjee coming to power in the state in 2011, defeating the Left Front.
Adhikari questioned why the TMC leadership was worried and sending so many of its leaders every week to Purba Medinipur if they really think that his exit does not matter.
Criticising state minister Firhad Hakim who addressed a rally in the area on Wednesday, Adhikari said that he had failed to manage the situation in Kolkata as its mayor after cyclone Amphan and that the Army, and disaster management teams from Odisha had to be called in to restore normalcy.
Claiming that it was a fight between a village lad and four-five people from south Kolkata, he said, "Of the 60 departments in the state government, 40 are in the hands of these few people."
Adhikari said that having been at the forefront of the Nandigram movement and having confronted Maoists and its leader Kishenji in Jangalmahal, he is not worried about these people.
He said that Saugata Roy, who has accused him of deserting the TMC, was a Congress candidate against Mamata Banerjee in south Kolkata constituency in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, which the TMC supremo fought in alliance with Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP.
Adhikari said that he had been a saviour of the TMC by fighting Left Front leaders Kiranmoy Nanda and Lakshman Seth in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections, when no one in the TMC was willing to take on them in the '90s and the early 2000s.
He asserted that along with BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, he will ensure that the BJP wins all 35 seats in Purba and Paschim Medinipur districts.
"Me and Dilip Ghosh of Gopiballavpur in Paschim Medinipur have united the sandy soil of the Bay of Bengal coast and the red soil of Jangalmahal and we will sleep only after the lotus blooms," he said.
Maintaining that his family played a crucial role in the TMC's wins from seats in Purba Medinipur, Adhikari said that Mamata Banerjee's party will come second in the 2021 assembly elections in the state, while the pole position will be taken by the BJP.
Suvendu's father Sisir Adhikari is a TMC Member of Parliament from Kanthi, while his brother Dibyendu is a party MP from neighbouring Tamluk.
Another brother Soumendu is the chairman of Kanthi Municipality held by the TMC.
Accusing the TMC leadership of step-motherly attitude towards Kanthi, he said, "While Diamond Harbour gets two universities and two medical colleges, Kanthi did not get anything."
Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha seat is held by Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of the TMC chief.