BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari is likely to contest the upcoming West Bengal state assembly election from Nandigram against TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.
According to Bengali daily Sangbad Pratidin, Adhikari on Tuesday resigned as the chairman of Jute Corporation of India as fighting the election won’t allow him to hold on to any government post.
Even though BJP has not officially announced its candidates, Adhikari’s ticket from Nandigram is reportedly confirmed. “Election pressures are running high. That’s why Suvendu resigned [Jute Corporation],” said Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Ever since the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had declared herself as her party’s candidate from Nandigram, speculations started to surface that Adhikari would be BJP’s bet against her.
The TMC-turncoat maintained silence and said that the party would decide where to field him, while he challenged to beat Banerjee by a margin of over 50,000 votes.
Meanwhile, Banerjee’s decision to contest in Nandigram had come after Adhikari, who represented the constitutency, defected to BJP.
This move by the TMC supremo was seen as a direct challenge to him, who had led an exodus of Trinamool leaders to the BJP in December.
The Nandigram constitutency holds a significant space in contemporary Bengali politics. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) had come to power in 2011 assembly elections banking on the campaign for farmers’ land there.
In 2007, 14 people were killed in clashes as protests erupted against an SEZ project in Nandigram which was cleared by the Left government. The TMC’s ‘Ma, Maati, Manush’ campaign had led to CM Mamata Banerjee’s landslide win defeating the Left government.
Adhikari, who was a close aide to Mamata Banerjee, helped in the campaign for farmers’ land in Nandigram. He grew from an MLA to the state transport minister. His father and brother Dibyendu, both are sitting MPs and another brother is the chief of the municipal corporation. They have a strong influence in East and West Midnapore districts.
Meanwhile, the BJP could announce its first phase of candy on Thursday night or Friday morning. It isn’t clear how many candidates would be announced at the first go.
The TMC is likely to name its candidates on Wednesday for the first phase of polls andfor the second on Friday.
Nandigram goes to vote on April 1 in the second of the eight-phased Bengal polls.