TMC MP and actor Dev refused to share stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

News Desk: Trinamool Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP and Bengali movie star Dev on Wednesday said he will not attend the February 7 government event at Haldia port where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate projects worth 4,500 crore.

Dev, whose real name is Dipak Adhikari, is the Lok Sabha MP from Ghatal constituency which comprises one assembly segment of East Midnapore district where Haldia is located. The other six assembly segments in the Ghatal seat are in West Midnapore.

Dev’s invitation to the Haldia event sparked a controversy on Wednesday afternoon when Saumitra Khan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Bankura district, tweeted a report of a Bengali online magazine which carried a photo of Modi and Dev and said the two will share the same dais.

“This has created a sensation in state politics” Khan tweeted in Bangla, tagging the Prime Minister and Dev.

Dev reacted quickly to stop the story from gaining any traction.

“Dear Saumitra, I still feel very proud to see your journey & achievements. My sincere apologies, as I won’t be able to make it to this event, but I’m touched to have received this invite. U will always hold a special place of love n respect irrespective of our political ideologies,” tweeted Dev.

“Irrespective of our political ideologies, as I still cherish the good old times we spent together, when you represented the same party as me. All the very best for this and my best wishes are always with you & your Party. Take care,” Dev wrote in a second tweet.

Dev (39), who was born in Keshpur in West Midnapore, won the Ghatal seat twice since 2014. In 2019, he defeated BJP’s Bharati Ghosh, a former Indian Police Service officer, by more than one lakh votes.

East Midnapore district has been in the headlines ever since TMC’s Nandigram legislator Suvendu Adhikari quit the assembly seat and the cabinet and joined the BJP on December 19. Tapasi Mandal, the CPI(M) legislator from Haldia also joined the BJP the same day under his leadership. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has declared that she will contest the Nandigram seat in the elections due in March-April.

Suvendu Adhikari’s father, Sisir Adhikari, is the TMC’s Lok Sabha member from East Midnapore’s Kanthi constituency and the latter’s elder son Dibyendu is the Lok Sabha MP from Tamluk. Both have been invited to the Prime Minister’s programme.

Modi is also scheduled to attend a BJP rally after the government event. There are speculations that Suvendu Adhikari’s father and brother may join the BJP. His youngest brother Soumendu, who headed the Kanthi municipality, has already joined the saffron camp.

Sisir Adhikari has been Mamata Banerjee’s close associate since the party’s birth in 1998. He has been representing the Kanthi seat since 2009.

Ever since Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP, ruling party leaders are targeting him at election rallies, often calling him Mir Zafar, the general who betrayed Shiraj-ud-Daulah, Bengal’s last independent nawab who was defeated by the East India Company in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The battle marked the beginning of British rule in India.

On December 19, Adhikari and six sitting TMC legislators, a TMC Lok Sabha member, three MLAs from the Left and Congress and at least 20 other district-level leaders of the ruling party joined the BJP at Union home minister Amit Shah’s rally in Midnapore town. This marked the biggest defection of elected TMC leaders in the run-up to the assembly polls.