Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, 18 January, announced that she would be contesting from the Nandigram constituency for the upcoming state Legislative Assembly polls. Banerjee’s current constituency is Bhawanipur.
Nandigram was the Assembly constituency of former TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari till he resigned from the Bengal Assembly and went on to join the BJP on 19 December. He had won the seat in 2016 as a TMC candidate.
Banerjee contesting from Nandigram this time around is a direct challenge to Adhikari, whose tumultuous exit from the party was followed by many others leaving TMC for BJP.
“How would it be if I stand from Nandigram? I was thinking…hence I’m saying it. It is my wish. It’s a rural area. It is an area close to my heart. It is an area I love. I may not be able to give much time here during the elections because I’m fighting 294 seats. So, please handle this for me. And after elections, I will handle everything for you”, said the Chief Minister at a party rally in Nandigram.
"Nandigram is my elder sister. Bhawanipur is my little sister. I will not neglect Bhawanipur. I will put up a good candidate. If I can I will run both, otherwise I will ensure there's a good candidate. But I'm declaring here that I will contest this election from Nandigram", she added.
‘BJP Like a Washing Machine’
Speaking on the defections from the TMC to the BJP, Mamata said that some people are "going here and there" but "there was no reason to worry".
"When Trinamool was started, none of you were here," said the party supremo.
"BJP is like a waching machine - go in black and come out white," she said.
"Washing powder BJP, washing powder BJP," she further mocked.
‘Will Defeat Mamata By Half a Lakh Votes’: Suvendu Adhikari
Taking to Twitter on Monday evening, Suvendu Adhikari said: “Welcome Didi! For 21 yrs I was by your side. Now I look forward to the face-to-face fight in Nandigram!”
Speaking at a rally in Kolkata, Suvendu Adhikari, on Monday, had accepted the Chief Minister's challenge.
“The BJP is not a private limited company. So, we cannot announce at rallies who will contest from where. But I can guarantee, that I, or whoever from the BJP stands from Nandigram, will beat the Chief Minister by at least half a lakh votes, else I will quit politics”, Adhikari declared.
Since joining the BJP at a rally by Amit Shah in Midnapore on 19 December, Adhikari has been one of BJP's star campaigners, holding multiple rallies for the party across the state, focussing on Midnapore.
Adhikari is scheduled to hold a counter rally to that of Mamata's at his home turf on Contai in East Midnapore on 19 January.