West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said that she will contest the upcoming Assembly polls from Nandigram. Former TMC leader Suvendhu Adikari, who switched to BJP last year, had won from Nandigram in 2016.
“I will fight from Nandigram. My soul said to me, Nandigram is your lucky place, your holy place. So, you should fight from Nandigram,” Mamata said at a rally in Nandigram.
Hours later, Adikari said he was ready to accept the challenge, and would defeat the CM or quit politics, PTI reported. “If I am fielded by my party from Nandigram, I will defeat her by a margin of at least 50,000 votes or I will quit politics,” he stated.
Adhikari, however, said unlike the TMC, which is run “autocratically” by Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek, in BJP, the candidates are decided after discussion and it was for the party to take a call on his candidature. “I don’t know from where I will be fielded, whether I will be fielded,” he said, addressing BJP workers after a three-km road show.
Banerjee is presently an MLA from Bhawanipore constituency. “Nandigram is my elder sister and Bhawanipore is my younger sister. I will give a strong candidate from Bhawanipore also. I may fight from both seats. I am requesting our party president Subrata Bakshi that they should consider my candidature from Nandigram,” she said today.
Nandigram and Singur land movement catapulted Mamata Banerjee to the political center stage of Bengal. In the 2012 Assembly election, Banerjee with Suvendu Adhikari’s help campaigned for farmers’ land in Nandigram and ousted the then Left government.
Since 2007, as Adhikari grew from MLA to multi-term MLA, to state transport minister, the influence of his family in the region has never withered. His father is a sitting MP, as his younger brother Dibyendu, while another brother is chief of the municipal corporation of Kanthi Municipal Corporation. They have a stronghold in East and West Midnapore districts.
In such a situation, Banerjee’s decision to fight against Nandigram not only gave extra fuel to the TMC grassroots but also a big challenge for the opposition BJP.