Kolkata: Nandigram, in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal, would be the constituency which would attract nationwide attention since it is going to witness the battle royal between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her bête noir Suvendu Adhikari who had left the ruling TMC a couple of months back. Suvendu Adhikari has been nominated as the BJP candidate a day after Mamata announced her decision to shift from Bhavanipur in Kolkata to Nandigram which is supposed to be a strong forte of Adhikari. Since the BJP and Suvendu had accepted the challenge, Mamata will be filing her nomination papers from Nandigram on March 9. The polling will be held in the second phase on April 1. It is going to be a mega political contest.
The BJP released on Saturday a list of candidates for 57 out of 60 constituencies that will go to polls in the first two phases. The prominent candidates include the former IPS officer and State vice-president of the BJP Bharati Ghosh who will be contesting from Debra constituency and former cricketer Ashok Dinda from Moyna constituency.
After the name of Suvendu Adhikari was announced by the party leadership, the BJP workers came into the streets celebrating the fact that a strong candidate has been fielded to face the chief minister.
Nandigram was in news in March 2007 when 14 villagers were killed in police firing and the consequent violence. The people of the area were protesting against forcible acquisition of land by the CPM-led Left Front government. The decision was resisted by Mamata’s TMC. It was a bellwether movement for the TMC headed by Mamata Banerjee who made most of the movement to gain control over the area. It gave her party a psychological edge over the Left Front. Suvendu Adhikari was on her side during the battle for Nandigram. During the ten years of TMC rule, it was Adhikari who was nursing the area on behalf of Mamata. A dynamic leader, Adkikari has built a clout for himself in the cluster of constituencies in the area in which he and Mamata are two prominent faces. Now the battle is being fought between the chela and his mentor.
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Mamata has taken a calculated risk. She wants to prove that she is a force to reckon with in Nandigram which has remained a symbol of her fighting prowess. She is advised by Prashant Kishor, the election specialist, not to make the Nandigram contest a prestigious issue, but she was keen on fighting from that constituency where she was challenged by her protégé. She may not contest from two constituencies as senior leaders in other States generally do for safety. She thinks that would send wrong signals to the people that she was not sure of winning at Nandigram.