In a big challenge to rebel Suvendu Adhikari, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday (January 18) announced that she will contest from Nandigram in the assembly election due in three-four months.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo told a public meeting in the town that Nandigram is her lucky place. Since 2011, she has been representing Bhawanipur constituency in Kolkata. She said that if possible she will contest from both Bhawanipur and Nandigram.
This assumes significance as Nandigram used to be represented by former minister and rebel Suvendu Adhikari who defected to the BJP last month.
That Banerjee chose Nandigram to make the big announcement reflects the TMC supremo’s determination to take the BJP, which has launched a spirited campaign to unseat her after a decade-long stint in power, head on.
Banerjee further said that she is not worried about those joining rival parties as they were hardly areound when the TMC was formed. Banerjee said these leaders left the ruling party to protect the money “they have looted” in the last few years.
“I have always started my campaign for the assembly polls from Nandigram. It is a lucky place for me. So this time I feel that I should contest the assembly polls from here. I request our state party president Subrata Bakshi to approve my name from this seat,” said Banerjee. Bakshi, who was on the podium, swiftly accepted the request.
Nandigram was the scene of massive public protest against “forcible” land acquisition by the then Left Front government for creation of a special economic zone. The protracted and often bloody protests added to Banerjee and her party’s political heft and catapulted the TMC to power in 2011, marking the end of the Left Front rule of 34 years.
Adhikari is considered the face face of the movement in Nandigram, some 130 km south-west of Kolkata. After switching over to ther BJP, Adhikari has often accused Banerjee of having forgotten the people of the area who helped her gain power in the state.
Banerjee is at present the MLA from Bhawanipore in south Kolkata. “If possible, I will contest from both Bhawanipore and Nandigram. In case I am unable to contest from Bhawanipore, someone else will,” she said.
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. Let 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.
Assembly elections in the state are likely in April-May.
(With inputs from agencies)