West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting.(PTI Photo)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting.(PTI Photo)

'Masterstroke': Mamata Banerjee brings Nandigram back in focus; to contest against Adhikari

  • Banerjee is set to contest against Adhikari, who said he will quit politics if the chief minister doesn’t lose by 50,000 votes.
By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 01:09 AM IST

13 years after a violent movement against acquisition of farmland for industry at Nandigram in West Bengal's East Midnapore district catapulted her and subsequently led to the defeat of the Left Front’s monolithic regime in 2011, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday brought Nandigram back to the centre stage of politics on the eve of the imminent assembly polls.

Making a move that political observers described as a masterstroke, Banerjee, while addressing a rally at Nandigram, announced that she will contest from there against her bete noire Suvendu Adhikari, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) biggest weapon against the ruling party. Banerjee said she will also contest from south Kolkata’s Bhawanipore, her existing seat.

Adhikari, who resigned from the Nandigram seat and joined the BJP in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah on December 19, accepted the challenge while addressing a rally at Rashbehari in south Kolkata, close to the chief minister’s home. “Write this down and mention the date and time. I will leave politics if I cannot defeat her by half lakh (50,000) votes,” Adhikari said at the rally.

Also read: Indian, French Rafale jets set to take part in war games in Rajasthan

Adhikari, who will hold a counter-rally in Nandigram on Tuesday, alleged that the crowd seen at Banerjee’s rally was ferried from other districts.

BJP, Congress and Left leaders lost no time in attacking Banerjee, saying she would be contesting from Nandigram in addition to Bhawanipore because she was not confident of winning from her old seat where the TMC’s vote share has decreased in recent polls.

“The BJP had pushed back the TMC (by 496 votes) in Mamata Banerjee’s own ward (KMC Ward No 73) under Bhowanipore Assembly constituency during 2019 Lok Sabha elections. That explains Pishi’s jitteriness and decision to change her seat... If the CM is not sure, can her party win?” tweeted Amit Malviya, head of the BJP’s national information technology cell who had been given additional charge of Bengal prior to the polls. Since months, Malviya has been referring to Banerjee as pishi (aunt in Bengali).

“Bhawanipore is my elder sister and Nandigram is my younger sister. I will try to contest from both assembly constituencies. The people of Bhawanipore may feel bad. But I don’t want to hurt them. If I can manage (to contest from both constituencies) it is okay. But I will contest from Nandigram,” Banerjee said at the rally.

The TMC-led movement against acquisition of farmland for a chemical hub at Nandigram witnessed unprecedented violence in the last years of the Left Front government and helped Banerjee come to power. The violence, which continued for more than two years, erupted after 14 villagers died in police firing in 2007.

It is widely acknowledged that without the Nandigram movement and a prolonged agitation against the proposed Tata small car plant at Singur in Hooghly district, Banerjee might not have been able to overthrow the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government. The two incidents rocked the state, grabbed headlines in the international media and galvanized public opinion against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.

On Monday, it was Banerjee’s first rally at Nandigram after Adhikari joined the BJP. Before and after joining the saffron camp, Adhikari has said at almost every rally that it was he who led the land movement as a son of the soil.

On Monday, it appeared that Banerjee was not initially sure about her decision. "I am not announcing any name for the Nandigram assembly seat. I will announce it later. But I promise to field a good candidate who will stay here and work for the people," she said in her first remarks.

Seconds later, she said, "How will it be if I contest from Nandigram myself? It is my feeling that I shared. Nandigram finds a place in my heart and soul.” She then went ahead and announced her decision.

The TMC has faced a tough challenge in Nandigram in recent times.

In East Midnapore, members of the Adhikari family have a massive fan following. The district’s Contai and Tamluk Lok Sabha seats are represented by Suvendu’s father Sisir Adhikari and his elder brother Dibyendu Adhikari. Both are likely to join the BJP, TMC leaders feel.

Also read: Tandav makers say sorry after a torrent of criticism over web series

While Suvendu and his brother Soumendu have already joined the BJP, other family members have also distanced themselves from the ruling party. None from the Adhikari family were present at Banerjee’s rally.

Election analyst and Kolkata-based political science professor Udayan Bandopadhyay said, “Mamata Banerjee played a masterstroke. In one single move, she turned the battle between the TMC and the BJP into a battle between herself and Suvendu."

"Winning the Nandigram seat will be a tough job for him now, given Banerjee’s image and popularity. Moreover, Banerjee’s challenge will force Adhikari to spend most of his time in his home district and Nandigram. He will not be able to work for the BJP in other districts. Banerjee killed many birds with one stone,” Bandopadhyay added.

In the 2016 elections, the TMC got 67 per cent votes in Nandigram while the BJP got only around 5 per cent but the latter made deep inroads in the 2019 elections and won around 30 per cent of the votes nibbling primarily into the Left’s vote share.

“I won’t be able to give much time to Nandigram before the polls, because I am the face for all 294 assembly seats. So you tackle everything (the campaign). Later, I will do the rest,” Banerjee told the people who gathered in large numbers.

While the TMC claimed that around 3,00,000 people attended the rally, Suvendu Adhikari said only 30,000 had turned up.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Election strategist Prashant Kishor (PTI File Photo)
Election strategist Prashant Kishor (PTI File Photo)

'Key battle for democracy’: Prashant Kishor tweets on Bengal polls

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Karan Manral, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 12:05 PM IST
In his first tweet since December 21 last year, Prashant Kishor also echoed West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in saying that ‘Bengal Only Wants its Own Daughter.’ Kishor is working with Banerjee and her TMC for the upcoming assembly elections.
Close
A shopkeeper displays campaigning material of political parties for sale for West Bengal assembly elections 2021, in Kolkata on Friday.(AFP Photo)
A shopkeeper displays campaigning material of political parties for sale for West Bengal assembly elections 2021, in Kolkata on Friday.(AFP Photo)

Bengal polls: Schedule in north Bengal where BJP had jolted TMC in 2019

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 11:28 AM IST
The West Bengal assembly has 294 seats and BJP leader and Union home minister Amit Shah has announced that his party will oust the TMC government by winning more than 200.
Close
Polling in West Bengal will be held on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. (PTI Photo)
Polling in West Bengal will be held on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. (PTI Photo)

West Bengal assembly polls in 8 phases: Election officials explain

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 10:54 AM IST
The 294 assembly seats in West Bengal, where the ruling Trinamool Congress is looking to retain power amid a strong challenge from the BJP, will go to the polls in eight phases and the votes will be counted on May 2.
Close
Banerjee also attacked the Election Commission, saying the EC scheduled the poll dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.(PTI)
Banerjee also attacked the Election Commission, saying the EC scheduled the poll dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.(PTI)

TMC, BJP trade barbs over 8-phase elections

By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 01:51 AM IST
“If elections can be held in Bihar and Assam in three phases, then why are they being held in eight phases here? Who will be benefitted? The ECI should be more rational,” Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
Close
The schedule was announced in the backdrop assertions by chief minister Mamata Banerjee that the political battle between her TMC and the BJP was a personal battle as well.(HT_PRINT)
The schedule was announced in the backdrop assertions by chief minister Mamata Banerjee that the political battle between her TMC and the BJP was a personal battle as well.(HT_PRINT)

TMC tries to hold fort as BJP aims to gain ground

By Tanmay Chatterjee, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 01:47 AM IST
On Friday, the Election Commission announced dates for the assembly elections in West Bengal, where the BJP is determined to win power. Polls in the state will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29.
Close
The CPI has called upon the masses to join it to ‘save India for livelihood, equality and justice for all’(AFP)
The CPI has called upon the masses to join it to ‘save India for livelihood, equality and justice for all’(AFP)

Left parties ask EC to explain eight-phase poll in West Bengal

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:08 PM IST
Voting for five assembly elections will begin on March 27, with West Bengal having the maximum eight phases continuing till April 29, while counting of votes for the four states and one union territory will be done on May 2, the Election Commission said on Friday.
Close
**EDS: IMAGE MADE AVAILABLE FROM CM OFFICE** Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference at Kalighat, in Kolkata, Friday, Feb 26, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI02_26_2021_000202A)(PTI)
**EDS: IMAGE MADE AVAILABLE FROM CM OFFICE** Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference at Kalighat, in Kolkata, Friday, Feb 26, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI02_26_2021_000202A)(PTI)

In poll-bound Bengal, CM Mamata showers last minute sops in bid to woo voters

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:07 PM IST
  • The ECI around 4:30 pm on Friday announced the poll dates for four states, including West Bengal, and the UT of Puducherry. With the announcement of the polls the MCC came into force barring any new announcements by the government.
Close
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (File photo)(HT_PRINT)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (File photo)(HT_PRINT)

Mamata calls herself 'daughter of Bengal', says will win despite eight phases

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 07:52 PM IST
Mamata said that the eight-phase election in Bengal raises many questions as other states are voting on a single day. She was addressing a press conference at her residence in Kalighat.
Close
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.(PTI)
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.(PTI)

Watch| 'Dadagiri cholbe na': Rajnath Singh speaks in Bengali amid cheers

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 07:01 PM IST
The defence minister spoke in Bengali to connect with the people and said no 'dadagiri' (hooliganism) will be allowed in Bengal.
Close
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday also accused the Centre of failing to control the prices of petrol and cooking gas. (PTI PHOTO)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday also accused the Centre of failing to control the prices of petrol and cooking gas. (PTI PHOTO)

West Bengal, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu rush to announce last-minute sops

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:25 PM IST
  • The model code of conduct, which comes into effect immediately after poll dates are announced by the Election Commission, prohibits governments from making any welfare announcements
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. (HT archive)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. (HT archive)

Bengal elections begin on March 27; state stares at bi-polar contest

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:39 PM IST
The BJP has also pulled out all the stops with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Bengal three times in 30 days, followed by Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP chief J P Nadda and more than 30 Union ministers and senior leaders from other states who Banerjee calls “outsiders”
Close
The Congress and the Left, who will be fighting the elections together, are in the process of finalising the seats ahead of the high stake contest.
The Congress and the Left, who will be fighting the elections together, are in the process of finalising the seats ahead of the high stake contest.

West Bengal Poll Dates 2021 | State to see 8-phased polls from March 27: ECI

Edited by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 05:34 PM IST
The eastern state is all set to see a fierce battle between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is eyeing power in the state with a majority of over 200 seats.
Close
BJP national president JP Nadda speaks during the launch of 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla' campaign, at the state BJP election office in Kolkata on Thursday. (PTI PHOTO).
BJP national president JP Nadda speaks during the launch of 'Lokkho Sonar Bangla' campaign, at the state BJP election office in Kolkata on Thursday. (PTI PHOTO).

Bengal needs a vaccine against cut-money, extortion and theft, says JP Nadda

PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 09:13 PM IST
  • The Union government has announced that in the second phase of vaccination, people over the age of 60 years and those below 60 but above 40 and with co-morbidities will be vaccinated.
Close
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress party leader Abhishek Banerjee. (AP)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress party leader Abhishek Banerjee. (AP)

TMC's Abhishek Banerjee takes dig at BJP’s ‘Sonar Bangla’ slogan

PTI
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:00 PM IST
"I am a Bhumiputra of this soil. I am not an outsider like you. The voters of Bengal will reject you," he said apparently referring to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda who held public meetings recently.
Close
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi(ANI)
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi(ANI)

'TMC has two faces...': Owaisi after cops cancel Kolkata rally ahead of polls

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 03:41 PM IST
AIMIM chief's Kolkata rally which was scheduled for Thursday was cancelled on Wednesday night after the state police refused permission for the same.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP