West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be filing her nomination papers on March 11 from Nandigram Assembly seat in East Midnapore district, which was won in the 2016 election by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Suvendhu Adhikari.
The latter then was a Trinamool Congress candidate and a senior leader of the party. He had resigned in November last.
Mamata had made her decision public to contest from Nandigram on January 18 at a massive public meeting in this very Assembly segment. It was from Nandigram where she had started a movement against the Left Front government’s land acquisition policy in 2007.
Curiously, the Central Election Committee of the BJP on March 4 could not decide whether to field Suvendhu from Nandigram or not. The CEC meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi.
Suvendhu, on his part, has shown his willingness to contest from Nandigram and is confident of defeating Mamata by a margin of 50,000 votes. The party, according to reports, may take the final decision on his name on March 9.
Earlier, a marathon meeting was held in the day which was presided over by the party chief J P Nadda.
The party bigwigs met to finalise the name of candidates for West Bengal and Assam. Sources from within the TMC said that Mamata may not contest from her traditional Bhowanipore seat in Kolkata.
The showdown between Mamata and Suvendhu would be an interesting one as the latter has repeatedly been claiming that actually he was the one who spearheaded the movement against the Left in Nandigram. Suvendhu’s hold on TMC can be gauged from the fact that while he was a senior minister in Mamata’s cabinet, his brother and father are still the party’s MPs from two different Lok Sabha constituencies in the region.
Political analysts are of the view that it would be a do or die battle for Suvendhu. At the same time much would be at stake for Mamata, who is locked in a grim battle with the saffron party.
Meanwhile, a seat sharing arrangement has been finalised in Assam with the BJP fielding its candidates on 92 seats leaving 26 for the Asom Gana Parishad and eight for the United People’s Party Liberal, a small party of Bodoland. The UPPL will be a replacement for the Bodoland Peoples’ Front which has crossed over to the Congress-led Mahajath.