Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari on Monday said that he was willing to contest from the Nandigram Assembly constituency in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal against Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, reported PTI. The BJP has not announced its candidates for the state elections that will take place in the next few months.
Adhikari, who switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party in December, had won the Nandigram seat in the 2016 Assembly elections. Earlier on Monday, Banerjee announced that she will contest the upcoming Assembly elections from the constituency. The chief minister has contested from the Bhowanipore seat for the last decade.
“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 claimed during an address to BJP workers after a roadshow in Kolkata. “I don’t know from where I will be fielded, whether I will be fielded.”
The chief minister’s announcement was significant as Nandigram symbolises the Trinamool Congress’ struggle against forcible land acquisition by the then Left Front regime for creation of a special economic zone. The Nandigram movement, a campaign for farmers’ land, had catapulted Banerjee to power in the 2011 state elections. It marked the end of the decades-long Left rule in the state.
At the rally on Monday, Adhikari said that Banerjee remembered Nandigram only before elections, and accused her of extending the tenure of an Indian Police Service officer, involved in the Nandigram firing, four times, reported PTI.
The BJP leader said that the chief minister was playing with the sentiments of Nandigram locals. “What has she done for Nandigram,” he asked, according to News18. “This place will never forgive her. You, your corrupt nephew [Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee] and your ‘private limited’ can make announcements. But you will lose Nandigram by over half a lakh votes, or else I will quit politics. Whether it be me or anyone whom the BJP chooses to contest from Nandigram, will beat Mamata by over half lakh votes.”
He claimed not more than 30,000 people, primarily ferried from other places, had attended the chief minister’s meeting earlier in the day.
The West Bengal elections will be a closely watched contest as the BJP has indicated that the polls in the state are one of its priorities. Earlier in the day, in an apparent dig at Adhikari, Banerjee said that she was not worried about those changing sides. The chief minister attacked the BJP, accusing it of luring her party workers by promising to turn their black money into white.
Suvendu Adhikari’s exit from Trinamool Congress
The Trinamool Congress was thrown into a state of political chaos after Adhikari, a former state minister and a close associate of Banerjee, quit from the party. After a long-drawn public rift with the ruling party in West Bengal, Adhikari joined the BJP during Amit Shah’s two-day visit to West Bengal on December 19. He resigned from all the positions he held in the Trinamool Congress on December 17. This came a day after he resigned as a member of the Legislative Assembly and almost 20 days after he resigned as West Bengal transport minister. He had quit from the post of chairperson of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners too.
Meanwhile, the Banerjee-led has been witnessing an exodus in the run up to the Assembly elections in West Bengal. Several party leaders have switched sides and joined the BJP.