Mamata, Shah & Adhikari Hold Rallies in Nandigram Ahead of Polling

Union Home Minster Amit Shah and CM Mamata Banerjee held a roadshow in Nandigram on 30 March.

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India
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Suvendu Adhikari and Mamata Banerjee
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Emerging as the epicentre of the West Bengal Assembly polls, Nandigram is witnessing two fervent election campaigns as the state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee takes on her former associate, Trinamool turncoat Suvendu Adhikari.

Ahead of the second phase of the elections, Union Home Minster Amit Shah on Tuesday, 30 March held a roadshow in Nandigram and campaigned for the BJP candidate.

Through the streets between Bethuria and Rayapara in the East Midnapore’s Assembly segment, Shah and Adhikari stood on a lorry decked with BJP flags and flowers and waved at crowds that were chanting 'Jai Shri Ram', 'Narendra Modi Zindabad', and 'Amit Shah Zindabad'.

In a press conference after the road show, the Union Home Minister claimed that Adhikari would win the constituency by ‘a huge margin’.

Later in the day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was met with people sloganeering ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the same area, as she crossed the venue of Shah’s rally, News18 reported.

The CM had led a 8-km-long ‘padyatra’ from Reyapara Khudiram More to Thakur chowk in her wheelchair on Monday, 29 March, and was seen greeting the crowd with folded hands.

‘If Begum Comes Back, State Will Turn To Mini-Pakistan’

With impassioned campaigns being undertaken by both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP, the leaders have frequently been directing cutting, and often highly communal remarks at each other.

While addressing a public meeting in Nandigram on Monday, BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari referred to Banerjee as ‘begum’, saying, “If begum comes back to power, the state will turn into a mini Pakistan.”

He added, “She is trying to act like a Hindu now. She acts according to the seat she is campaigning for. While campaigning in Egra, she was reciting the kalmas (Islamic phrases). In Nandigram, she was chanting the wrong Chandipath (Hindu mantra),” The Wire quoted.

‘Defeat the Riot-Mongers’

Prior to her road show from Bhangabera, Banerjee addressed a public meeting in Sonachura on Tuesday and said that police personnel from Madhya Pradesh have been deployed to "terrorise" voters in villages and tilt the balance in favour of the BJP, PTI reported.

Banerjee went on to urge the people to be alert against “any bid to incite communal riots” in Nandigram ahead of the polling on 1 April, referring to her political rivals as ‘riot mongers.’

"Nandigram stood united in the battle against forcible land acquisition in which people from all communities participated. Be on guard against any bid to fuel tension by keeping any object in places of worship. We are all united,” PTI quoted the CM.

On Monday, the CM had held a roadshow in a wheelchair and alleged that the constituency was witnessing “hooliganism”.

On Sunday, political rival Suvendu Adhikari had hit out at the chief minister referring to her as “owner of TMC Pvt Ltd”. He alleged that she uses filthy language and asked her to get letter pads with ‘ex-MLA’ written on them.

Background

The Nandigram constituency will witness polling in the second phase scheduled on Thursday, 1 April.

Banerjee contesting from Nandigram this time comes as a direct challenge to Adhikari, who had exited from the TMC to join the BJP last December.

The Chief Minister was discharged from the SSKM Hospital earlier this month after she was injured in Nandigram. Right after the incident, the CM had said, "Four or five people came in front of the car and pushed the door. This was done purposely." She added that no local police was present at the spot where the incident took place.

The West Bengal Assembly election will be held from 27 March to 29 April in eight phases, following which the results will be declared on 2 May. The first phase of polling was held on Saturday, 27 March, and witnessed a voter turnout of nearly 80 percent.

(With inputs from PTI, The Wire, News18)

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