File images: Suvendu Adhikari (left) and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
The Nandigram seat of West Bengal is set for the Battle Royale in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Elections Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting against her former protege and now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari.
The BJP released its first list of 57 candidates for the 2021 state elections and named Adhikari from his home turf Nandigram on March 6, a day after Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and CM Banerjee announced her candidature from the seat in Purba Medinipur district. The constituency will vote on April 1, in the second of the eight phases of polling.
Adhikari, who had won the seat in 2016, quit the TMC and resigned from the MLA post in December 2020 to join the saffron party after having differences with the ruling party in the state.
Banerjee relinquished her traditional seat Bhowanipore this time to cross swords with once her own Adhikari. Her party colleague Sovandeb Chattopadhyay will be fighting from Bhawanipore seat now.
Why Nandigram seat is important in West Bengal Assembly Polls?
Nandigram is the cradle of the anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted Banerjee to power in 2011. Adhikari won the Nandigram seat in the 2016 assembly election, while another TMC candidate emerged victorious from the constituency in 2011.
Both Banerjee and Adhikari were prominent figures of the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram in 2007 that catapulted the firebrand TMC supremo to power in West Bengal in 2011 after ending the 34-year-long rule of the Left Front.
Here are the key points about the Nandigram seat
> Nandigram, the little-known rural area, changed the political landscape of West Bengal after witnessing one of the bloodiest movements against the government's land acquisition for industrialisation.
> After years of peace, Nandigram, with 70 percent Hindus and 30 percent Muslims, however, is now witnessing political and communal polarisation, with the latter firmly backing the TMC that had controlled the area for the last decade-and-a-half.
> The constituency comprises two blocks -- Nandigram I and Nandigram II -- with the first having 35 percent minority population and the second almost 15 percent.
Significance of winning Nadigram seat
For 50-year-old Adhikari, the contest in Nandigram will be a fight for his political survival as he had vowed to defeat Banerjee by over 50,000 votes in the seat or quit politics.
Banerjee will contest the seat for the first time. With several Adhikari loyalists joining the BJP after him, Mamata taking on him directly on the seat and wining from there will prove to be a morale boost for her cadre, according to political observers.
Elections to the 294-member assembly will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. Results will be declared on May 2 along with the three other poll-bound states – Assam, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu -- and the union territory of Puducherry.