Mamata Banerjee wants to reclaim her pro-farmer image by contesting from Nandigram
The chief minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee recently announced that she would contest the 2021 Bengal election from Nandigram seat in the East Midnapore district. The announcement took the Bengal politics by storm as many described it a calculative move and a political masterstroke to counter the Suvendu Adhikari crisis.
Mamata Banerjee is presently an elected MLA from Bhabanipur Assembly constituency in South Kolkata, where she resides. She contested from the Bhabanipur seat in the 2011 election where she won the election by more than 50,000 thousand votes. Later in 2016, she retained her seat by winning the election by more than 25,000 seats.
What could be the inspiration behind this move?
Experts are saying that there are multiple reasons why she is contesting from the Bhabanipur seat. She wants to reclaim her image of a pro-farmer leader which had catapulted her into power in 2011 Assembly elections. Nandigram has played a big role in making Mamata Banerjee into what she is today. She holds a strong connect with the people of that constituency.
Given the farmers’ protest in New Delhi due to the new farm laws, the Bengal CM wants to once again establish herself as the protector of farmer’s rights and wants to let people know that she is ready to walk an extra mile to ensure that their rights are protected. Nandigram provides a great platform to Mamata to assert this narrative and show that she is committed to addressing the agrarian crisis.
Also, by contesting from the Nandigram constituency, she is taking on her former TMC heavyweight and Nandigram MLA Suvendu Adhikari. She wants to make a statement by taking on Suvendu Adhikari’s constituency, who delivered a massive blow to the party last month by joining the rival BJP.
The decision to fight from the Nandigram seat means that if BJP fields Adhikari from the same seat, then there would be a direct clash between two heavyweights who were once very close politically. This will also ensure TMC’s relevance in the East Midnapore district in the absence of Adhikari and support from the Adhikari family. Suvendu Adhikari along with his brother Dibyendu Adhikari and father Sisir Adhikari (both are TMC MPs) enjoys a great influence in the region.
Bhartiya Janata Party, which has overcome as the main opposition to Mamata, will now have to face a daunting task of defeating the Bengal CM, who remains unbeaten in Bengal since 1989 Lok Sabha elections.
A message to party leaders who are sitting on the edge
Also, the announcement of fighting from Nandigram has asserted her image as a fighter who is ready to take on a heavyweight rebel leader. Mamta has taken the saffron party by horns and made it rethink its entire electoral strategy. Mamata has also rejuvenated the TMC’s rank and sent a message to party leaders, and especially to those who are sitting on the edge, to reconsider their position. This will give a major boost to the party which has been looking to form a government in the state for the third consecutive time.
It is also being assumed that Mamata has travelled to Nandigram to ensure her victory from another seat as she has been facing tough competition from BJP from Bhabanipur seat. As per the Lok Sabha polls 2019, Mamta Banerjee’s party led by only 3,000 votes in the assembly, which is a matter of concern for Bengal CM. Political enthusiasts and experts have observed that the TMC branding central BJP leaders as outsiders did not go well with the non-Bengalis in Bhabanipur constituency.
Significance of Nandigram?
Nandigram was one of the two epicentres of Trinamool Congress’s anti-land-acquisition movements in West Bengal, which helped the party win the 2011 Assembly elections in the state.
14 villagers were killed in police firing in 2007 when they were protesting against the then-left government’s proposed land acquisition for a chemical hub of Indonesia’s Salim group at Nandigram.
The Nandigram violence gave birth to a famous TMC slogan – Maa, Mati, Manush, meaning Mother, Motherland and People in English, which was used in election campaigns. It won’t be wrong to say that Nandigram was the place which gave Mamata Banerjee a pro-farmer political figure.
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