CHANDAN NAGAR: BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said on Wednesday that whoever contests as a BJP candidate from Nandigram in the West Bengal assembly elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be defeated by at least 50,000 votes.
Leading a roadshow in Chandannagar in Hooghly, Adhikari apologized to the people of the district for the movement against farmland acquisition in Singur, which forced Tata Motors to scrap the plan of an automobile hub.
He said the earlier Left Front government was much better than the present Trinamool Congress regime in several measures, including in creating employment opportunities.
"I don't know who will be fielded by BJP from Nandigram. It can be me or someone else. But, whoever contests as a BJP candidate from Nandigram, she (Mamata Banerjee) will be defeated by at least 50,000 votes," Adhikari said.
On Monday, Banerjee announced that she will contest the upcoming assembly elections from Nandigram, taking the fight to the home turf of Adhikari who left her party to join the BJP last month.
Adhikari, who won the election from Nandigram as the TMC candidate in 2016, had accepted the challenge and announced hours later that if the BJP fields him against the chief minister he will defeat her or quit politics.
At the roadshow, he also apologised with his hands folded to the people of the district and said that Banerjee spelt doom for Singur with the land movement in the late 2000s.
"I feel sorry for the unemployed youths in the district and the state. Sorry for being a part of that movement. Actually, others are lampposts in her party, while she is the only one having an actual post and taking decisions. Others like us had to put leucoplast on our mouths," he said.
Reacting to the comments, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, "What about the Nandigram movement? Will he apologise for being a part of that as well? His comments show how TMC and BJP don't have any principles."
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "After all these years, Suvendu is disowning his involvement in TMC's Singur movement, of which he was a part. Will he now disown the Nandigram movement? This shows his opportunism."
Earlier, BJP's national vice president Mukul Roy termed the land movement in Singur a blunder and said that it dealt a big blow to Bengal's industrialization bid.
Addressing a rally following the roadshow, Adhikari said that those having self-respect should leave the Trinamool Congress and join the BJP.
"If you don't want to remain as servants, if you want to have an identity, come and join the BJP," he said.
Adhikari also took a dig at Banerjee for reacting to the chanting of "Jai Shri Ram" after getting down from her car ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"How can she speak against Jai Shri Ram which is our emotion?" he asked Continuing his tirade against Banerjee, Adhikari said former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is a good man and the Left Front regime was better than that of the Trinamool Congress.
"The number of unemployed youth has reached an all-time high of 2 crores as the present government is not conducting competitive exams such as the SSC for six years. SSC exams were held annually during the CPI(M)'s rule," he said.
"I am urging those who are walking in CPI(M) rallies with their flags to join the BJP to stop the TMC from turning Bengal into a graveyard," he added.
Adhikari claimed that poll strategist Prashant Kishor has said in a recent interview that TMC has a "fixed deposit of 30 per cent electorate" while BJP has to work on the rest 70 per cent.
"Now which one is higher?" "After losing 18 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, she (Mamata Banerjee) has hired PK (Kishor) in a Rs 400-crore contract. And now she is set to see her party decimate entirely," he said.
The BJP leader said that there should be the same party's government at the Centre and in the state, he said.
Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta were also present in the roadshow.