So its Suvendu Adhikari vs Mamata Banerjee after all. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday announced its 57 candidates for the first two phases of assembly elections on March 27 and April 1.
On what looks like a battle royale, Mamata Banerjee face a daunting task of taking Adhikari on his own turf at Nandigram. The Adhikari family, headed by Sisir Adhikari and comprising of sons Suvendu, Dibyendu and Soumendu have a stranglehold over the Purba Midnapore district.
Sisir and Dibyendu are both MPs, the former from Kanthi and the latter from Tamluk in the district. Suvendu was the MLA from Nandigram. Incidentally, the district has a substantial Muslim population.
Suvendu Adhikari, even otherwise, is no mean name. He was the architect of the ouster of the Left from Nandigram in 2007, championing the cause of farmers over their land where CPM was keen to set up a chemical hub.
The so-called Third Front, the Left-Congress-ISF combine are yet to decide who would they field in Nandigram. The ISF though has been quoted as saying they would field a member of the family of its leader Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui from Nandigram.
Mamata Banerjee had announced on Friday that she would contest from Nandigram. Suvendu’s father Sisir had responded to it by saying that her decision to take on his son would boomerang on her. Suvendu has already made his prediction that he would defeat Mamata by “at least 50,000 votes” in Nandigram.
This contest would arguably galvanise the narrative of the Bengal assembly polls from both sides. It’s the most important content of the forthcoming elections. Suvendu had quit Trinamool and joined the BJP in December. He remains the most important acquisition for BJP from Trinamool in the State.
Mamata is fond of saying that BJP is outsider to Bengal. Adhikari flipped her quip on her only by claiming that Mamata was an “outsider” in Midnapore, the region where Nandigram falls, while he was its son.
Meanwhile among the 57 candidates announced by the BJP on Saturday, the names include former cricketer Ashoke Dinda (Moyna) and Bharati Ghosh (Debra). A few other important names are Dipankar Jana (Kagdip), Sheetal Kapat (Ghatal), Shamalkumar Sarkar (Taladangra) and Tanmay Ghosh (Bishnupur).
The candidates were chosen in a BJP CEC meeting, chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi, JP Nadda, Amit Shah and a few Bengal State BJP leaders, including Kailash Vijayvargiya, Dilip Ghosh and Mukul Roy.
The eight phases of the Bengal polls are on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26, and April 29 with results to be announced on May 2.