West Bengal elections: Mamata Banerjee to contest only from Nandigram in a major gamble

Kolkata: In a major act of political brinkmanship that had been the hallmark of her political career, Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister has let go her ‘comfort zone’ in Kolkata and will be contesting in a single seat from Nandigram in Medinipur in the high voltage Assembly elections in April-May. The Trinamool Congress-led government is up against a strong challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party as they are seeking a third term.

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‘Didi,’ is hence all set to take on Suvendu Adhikari – a close confidante of her not so long ago who had been one of BJP’s prized acquisitions during the last few months’ political upheaval in the state. While the initial buzz was that she would be contesting from both constituencies of Nandigram and Bhawanipore in South Kolkata, Mamata has left the second seat – very much her backyard – to veteran leader Shovondeb Chattopadhyay.

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“I am going to Nandigram on March 9. On 10th March, I will file the nomination at Haldia,” she said at a press conference.

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Adhikari was not just the face of the Trinamool in Nandigram, but he was also the face of the party’s anti-landgrab protest on the ground in 2008-2009 which stalled the Tata Group from setting up their Nano plant in Singur but ushered in Mamata to power in 2011 – overthrowing the CPI(M) led Left Front government after 35 years. The BJP is expected to announce their candidates’ list from New Delhi by this week.

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The TMC supremo also announced 291 candidates in West Bengal’s 294 seats for the 2021 elections starting later this month. The TMC has fielded 50 women, 42 Muslim candidates, 79 scheduled caste candidates (SC), and 17 Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates for the Bengal polls.

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“I am going to Nandigram on 9th March. On 10th March, I will file the nomination at Haldia,” the West Bengal CM said.

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Earlier on February 20, the incumbent TMC launched the slogan for the polls – “Bangla nijer meyekei chaye” (Bengal wants its own daughter).

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The state is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left-Indian Secular Front (ISF) alliance and BJP in the fray.

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West Bengal Assembly polls will be held in eight phases starting from 27 March with the final round of voting taking place on 29 April. Results will be declared on May 2.

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