Capping months of speculations, Trinamool Congress heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari on Saturday joined the BJP and vowed to oust the Mamata Banerjee regime in the 2021 assembly elections in West Bengal.

Adhikari, who joined the BJP at Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally here in Paschim Medinipur district, also claimed that the TMC came into existence because of the saffron party.

“The BJP, which is the biggest political party in the world, talks of nationalism and pluralism. West Bengal is not a personal fiefdom of any political party. And the TMC talks of insider and outsider to divide the people. How dare they call Amit Shah Ji, Kailash Vijayvargiya, outsiders? All of us are Indians,” he said.

Adhikari, the face of the Nandigram movement which added to the political heft of Banerjee and catapulted her to power in West Bengal in 2011, was handed over the BJP flag by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He touched Shah’s feet to seek his blessings who in turn embraced him.

“We have to end the 10 years of misrule and nepotism of the TMC. We have to ensure that the BJP forms government in West Bengal so that the people of the state gets the benefit of developmental politics of Narendra Modiji. The TMC will come second, and BJP will emerge as the winner,” he said.

The former minister alleged that the TMC wants to divide the state on the lines of “insider and outsider“.

“Shame on the TMC for such narrow politics,” the leader said as the crowd roared.

Adhikai accused the TMC, with which he had ended his two-decade-old relationship two days ago, of being a party of traitors, which had forgotten the role played by the BJP during its formation in 1998.

“I am being called a traitor by those (TMC leaders) who themselves are traitors. Had the BJP not been there, the TMC would have never come into existence. Had TMC not received the blessings of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, none of the TMC leaders would have dared to step outside their homes in the next assembly polls,” he said.

“Tolabaaj bhaipo hathao (get rid of the extortionist nephew)” Adhikari said.

Lauding Shah for his administrative and political acumen, the two-time former MP said that he first met him during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when he was general secretary of the BJP.

“When I was down with COVID, my former party did not enquire about my health, while Amit Shah twice enquired about how I am,” he said addressing the rally.

Ordinary people built the TMC brick by brick selflessly without any desire, but that party is now filled with individuals who do not bother about anyone but themselves, he claimed.

Reaching out to district BJP leaders, Adhikari said he has joined the saffron camp to work for people and the party. .

“I joined the BJP to work for the people. Please do not think that I came to the party to boss old-timers around.

I will work as a local BJP worker,” he said.

“Whatever I do, I do it with dedication. When I was in the TMC, I had given the call to remove the BJP. Now that I have joined the BJP, I give the call to oust the TMC,” he said.

In a jolt to the TMC ahead of the assembly elections, Adhikari quit the party on Thursday after giving up his cabinet portfolios in the state government and resigning as an MLA.

After the efforts of rapprochement failed, Adhikari, without naming anyone, has criticised the TMC leadership on a range of issues.

His father Sisir Adhikari and brother Dibyendu are sitting TMC MPs from Tamluk and Kanthi Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.

The Adhikari family wields considerable influence in at least 40--45 assembly segments in Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, parts of Birbhum -- mainly in the Junglemahal region -- and areas in minority-dominated Murshidabad district.

The brewing discontentment in the party may adversely impact the TMC’s prospects in the next assembly polls due in April-May next year.