KOLKATA: With Mamata Banerjee’s announcement confirming that she will fight from Nandigram constituency in East Midnapore district, countdown to the high-octane West Bengal Assembly elections began on Friday. The chief minister’s decision has turned the spotlight on Nandigram again, 14 years after the area witnessed a fierce protest against land acquisition, which eventually contributed to the downfall of the Left Front in 2011.
“When I say something, I keep my word. I will contest from one constituency and that is Nandigram. I will go to Nandigram on March 9 and file nomination next day,’’ said Mamata. This is said to be a move to counter her once trusted lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari’s defection to BJP. The Nandigram constituency has become the talk of Bengal politics of late, ever since Mamata hinted that she might contest from there and Adhikari said he would ensure her defeat by over 50,000 votes.
Adhikari repeated this at a rally in the same district recently. ‘’She has decided to run away from her Bhowanipore constituency. Had she contested from there, her defeat would have been secured. But she will have to return to Kolkata from Nandigram empty handed,’’ he had said. In 2007, a movement started in Nandigram following the CPI(M) government’s decision to build a special economic zone in the area.
The killing of 14 villagers in police firing triggered a movement led by the TMC which led to the fall of the Left. TMC won panchayat elections there in 2008, Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and a massive victory in the state Assembly polls in 2011. In 2021, the picture changed as Adhikari, a key player behind the Nandigram movement, joined BJP. Sensing a tough battle, top TMC functionaries have started frequenting Nandigram. They are looking for houses where Mamata will set up her base.