UPDATED: March 5, 2021 00:36 IST
n already high-voltage battle in West Bengal is all set to get even more interesting as top BJP sources have confirmed that Suvendu Adhikari will be fighting against CM Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram.
The development was confirmed to India Today TV after the BJP’s central election committee (CEC) met on Thursday to finalise party candidates for the initial phases of assembly polls in West Bengal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda along with other members of the committee held deliberations at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.
The list of candidates is expected to be released in a day or two.
With the confirmation, the most high-profile contest in the high-stakes Bengal polls will be a direct fight between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her former confidant and now BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari on the Nandigram seat.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already announced to contest as the Trinamool Congress candidate from Nandigram.
MAMATA VS ADHIKARI IN NANDIGRAM
Speculation over Suvendu Adhikari contesting on a BJP ticket from Nandigram arose after West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee declared she will contest the upcoming West Bengal assembly election from his stronghold.
Speaking at a rally, Suvendu Adhikari himself claimed, “If I do not defeat her [Mamata] with half lakh votes in Nandigram I will quit politics!”
While TMC sources have claimed Mamata Banerjee will only fight from Nandigram, neither party has officially declared candidates from this constituency.
Suvendu Adhikari was one of Mamata Banerjee’s most trusted aides and face of the Nandigram movement in Bengal that catapulted the TMC to power in the state 10 years ago. He had switched to the BJP in December 2020. His departure set in motion a rush among the TMC leaders to follow the suit.
Now, in all likelihood, Nandigram — the arena where Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari fought together 10 years ago — will become a battleground between the two.
The assembly elections in West Bengal are set to be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. The votes will be counted on May 2.
HEAVYWEIGHT ADHIKARI TO RETURN HOME
Nandigram was the scene of massive public protest against “forcible” land acquisition by the then Left Front government for the creation of a special economic zone.
The protracted and often bloody protests added to Mamata Banerjee and her party’s political heft and catapulted the TMC to power in 2011, marking the end of the Left Front rule of 34 years.
Suvendu Adhikari is considered the face of the movement in Nandigram, some 130 km south-west of Kolkata.
After switching over to the BJP, Suvendu Adhikari has often accused Mamata Banerjee of having forgotten the people of the area who helped her gain power in the state.
The Adhikaris wield considerable influence in at least 40-45 assembly segments in East and West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, parts of Birbhum — mainly in the Junglemahal region and areas in minority-dominated Murshidabad district.