High stakes: Mamata Banerjee camps in Nandigram as West Bengal’s biggest battle enters final leg

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Updated: March 30, 2021 5:15 PM

West Bengal Election 2021: Nandigram has now become a prestige battle for both Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari. Nandigram is the birthplace of the historic land movement that propelled Mamata Banerjee to power by dethroning the Left in 2011.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee

 

West Bengal Elections 2021: With phase one polling over, focus has now shifted to Nandigram, where sitting chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking on her former lieutenant and now BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari. To win what is now being seen as the biggest battle of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has decided to camp in Nandigram for the next three days starting Sunday. Nandigram will vote in the second phase on April 1. During the next three days, the TMC chief will hold seven rallies including two roadshows on Monday and Tuesday. Today, the chief minister will address a rally in Birulia, the same location where she got injured two weeks ago.

Nandigram has now become a prestige battle for both Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari. Nandigram is the birthplace of the historic land movement that propelled Mamata Banerjee to power by dethroning the Left in 2011. Suvendu Adhikari was the face of that movement, which made him among the most trusted lieutenants of Banerjee. However, a lot of water has flown since then – friends have now turned foes.

Suvendu is the sitting MLA from Nandigram, where he got 67.20 per cent votes in 2016. Nandigram is the stomping ground of Adhikari, who is confident of winning it by over 50,000 votes. The TMC, on the other hand, says that all those votes that Adhikari got in 2016 were in the name of TMC and its leader Mamata Banerjee.

For Suvendu Adhikari, Home Minister Amit Shah will hold a massive road show in Nandigram on March 30 (Tuesday). Nandigram has 30 per cent Muslim votes, that’s the average of minority votes in the state. While Banerjee is banking heavily on the minority votes, Suvendu has openly said that Mamata will lose the polls by over 50,000 votes. Adhikari comes from a political family, which enjoys significant clout in east Medinipur district. The Nandigram assembly segment is part of Medinipur district. Adhikari knows his ground very well, and Mamata never really cared too much for the territory as she had her key commander in-charge of Nandigram.

On Saturday, the BJP released an audio tape in which Mamata Banerjee purportedly called a BJP leader and sought his help to win Nandigram. “You should help us win Nandigram. Look, I know you have some grievances, but that’s due mostly to the Adhikaris who never allowed me to get into Nandigram or East Midnapore. I will take care of everything henceforth,” Banerjee purportedly told BJP official Pralay Pal. The BJP leader, however, refused to go along with Mamata and said he can’t betray the Adhikaris. “Didi, you called me and I am honoured. But I can’t betray the Adhikaris as they have stood by me through thick and thin,” he was heard saying in the audio clip as per PTI.

The BJP, which also posted the audio clip on its Twitter handle, claims the disclosure is reflective of Mamata’s nervousness ahead of her certain defeat. TMC, on the other hand, defends it as Mamata’s clear conscience. The developments, nevertheless, shows just how close the battle may be in a high-stakes constituency where Suvendu undoubtedly wields significant influence. The outcome of votes on April 1 may decide the fate of BJP and Mamata in the state on May 2.

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