KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced that she would contest from Nandigram, from where her former aide Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP last month, was elected in 2016.
She asked the party’s president Subrata Bakshi to ensure her candidature from the minority-dominated Assembly segment. "Nandigram is my lucky place. I will contest from here," she said while addressing the rally in Nandigram.
Bengal CM’s announcement is said to be a political move to challenge Adhikari family members, who claim to be the kingmakers in the district with 16 Assembly seats. Suvendu Adhikari’s father Sishir and brother Dibyendu are TMC MPs from Contai and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.
"The BJP has assigned Suvendu Adhikari to secure victory in all 35 seats in East Midnapore, West Midnapore, and Jhargram districts. Bengal CM’s announcement to contest from Suvendu’s constituency is a pressure tactic. If she contests from Nandigram, Suvendu’s political activities will be confined to East Midnapore district to ensure her defeat and save the other 15 seats in the district from the influence of the CM’s candidature," said a senior TMC leader.
Mamata Banerjee also said she would also contest in her own Bhowanipore constituency in south Kolkata. She also requested the electorates of Bhowanipore to bear with her decision. "Nandigram is my elder sister and Bhowanipur is my younger sister. I will fight from both, is possible. In case, I am unable to contest from Bhowanipore, don’t feel sad. I will give a good candidate for you," she said.
Referring to the exit of Suvendu Adhikari and other TMC functionaries, the TMC chief accused the BJP of receiving looters in its fold. "They looted public money. BJP leaders are saying if you are with the TMC, you will be in jail. If you join BJP, it is a washing machine and you will come out clean," she said.
Suvendu Adhikari is one of the accused in the Narada sting operation case being probed by the CBI.
Replying to Mamata’s surprising announcement to contest from his constituency, Suvendu, too, accepted the challenge. "If I can’t defeat her by half-lakh votes, I will quit politics," he said.
Bengal BJP, however, described Mamata Banerjee’s announcement to contest from Nandigram as a reflection of her ‘nervousness’. "Mamata Banerjee’s decision to shift seat from Bhowanipore to Nandigram, for the first time in 10 years, indicates her political nervousness," tweeted Amit Malviya, the BJP’s social media head and in-charge of Bengal.