Kolkata:Nandigram always hogs the limelight - once for the peasants' movement and now a prestigious fight is on the cards - as Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee takes on her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who is now in BJP.
Ms Banerjee sprang a surprise when she declared she will contest the assembly election from Nandigram, the seat held by political heavyweight Mr Adhikari.
The Left-led opposition grand alliance has fielded CPI (M)’s Minakshi Mukherjee from the high-stake Nandigram seat. Ms Mukherjee is the president of the West Bengal unit of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).
After the announcement of Ms Banerjee’s candidature, Mr Adhikari called the TMC supremo an “outsider” and said people of Nandigram won’t accept her.Mr Adhikari, who played a crucial role in the Nandigram agitation, said he is 200 per cent confident of winning Nandigram against his rival Mamata Banerjee.
"Mamata has remembered Nandigram only during elections. What has she done for Nandigram? This place will never forgive her. You, your corrupt nephew and your 'private limited' can make announcements. But you will lose Nandigram by over half a lakh votes, or else I will quit politics,” he said.
The BJP leader said the competition is not only from Nandigram but is against corruption and other issues in the state.
He also said there is a strong anti-incumbency wave in the state.On the other hand, during the election campaign, Ms Banerjee has been very vocal about the fact that only a Bengali will rule Bengal.
The TMC supremo has been calling BJP an outsider party. In her campaign she went on to say that 'the BJP is not Bengal party, it's a party from Gujarat'.Ms Banerjee said she would never allow "a handful of people" to sell out Bengal to the BJP.
"Those who have left the party have my best wishes.L et them become president and vice president of the country. But don't you dare to sell out Bengal to the BJP. As long as I am alive, I won't allow them to sell out my state to the BJP," she said.
Nandigram is not a safe seat. The Adhikari family had played a lead role in the Nandigram agitation and Suvendu has been winning handsomely from there since.Suvendu’s father Sishir Adhikari, an MP, was the East Midnapore district president of the TMC until last month.
Now that the Adhikari family has distanced itself from the TMC, the party was looking for a prominent face to fill the vacuum to galvanise the party organisation in the entire area.The chief minister has contested from Bhawanipore twice since 2011, when she won the seat in an assembly bypoll.
In 2016, she won approximately 48% of the vote share, down from 77.46% in 2011.The 2019 Lok Sabha elections brought a warning for the chief minister. The Trinamool managed to retain it by a thin margin of around 3,000 votes.To add to the embarrassment, TMC trailed in the adjacent Rashbehari segment by 5,000 votes.
Political analysts feel that for TMC supremo, fighting the elections from Nandigram will mean an easier constituency than Bhawanipore.
Nandigram has around 30% of minority votes and she is known to woo Muslim vote bank for her political benefit. Muslim voters are not going to vote for the BJP. They might not even vote for the Left, Congress or Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM if this turns out to be the prestige battle for the chief minister who has gone out of her way to back them, alienating and consolidating Hindu votes in the process.
Suvendu has already challenged that he would bring at least 35 constituencies to the BJP. By fighting from Nandigram Mamata Banerjee wants to stop Suvendu's political expansion.
Admitting that Banerjee’s decision would be a big push for the party in the district, TMC MLA Akhil Giri said East Midnapore would be privileged to have a chief minister representing the district.(UNI)