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Mamata's Petition Challenging Suvendu's Nandigram Win Deferred to June 24

Image of CM Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari used for representation.

Image of CM Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari used for representation.

Nandigram Verdict: Calcutta high court has asked the registrar to inform it whether Mamata Banerjee's petition has been filed in conformity with provisions of Representation of People Act.

A Calcutta high court bench of Justice Kaushik Chandra on Friday deferred hearing in the election petition filed by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to June 24. The petition challenges her close aide-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari’s election victory from the Nandigram constituency.

“Let the matter be listed next Thursday. In the meantime, registrar shall file report before this court as to whether the petition has been filed in conformity with provisions of Representation of People Act," the court said.

Adhikari had won the Nandigram seat by 1,956 votes, leading Mamata to face her first electoral loss in 32 years. The leader had switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party last year, and post his win, became the Leader of Opposition in the Bengal assembly. Some claims say that the petition alleges the votes were not counted properly.

Why is Nandigram So Important?

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Nandigram is a small town located in Purba Medinipur. The area saw violent agitation in 2007 against land acquisition by the Left-ruled government for industrial purposes. This led to killing of 14 people in a police firing and resulted in mass upsurge against the Marxist rule.

Banerjee then turned Nandigram into a symbol of her three-decade-old fierce battle against the Left, and, in particular, against its last chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. As a result, in 2011, curtains were drawn on the 34-year-old Marxist rule.

The Trinamool Congress chief’s electoral battle cry, “Ma Mati Manush" (mother, motherland and people) was born in Nandigram. It went on to help the TMC capture power and retain it for a second term in 2016.

Despite Losing Nandigram, How Did ‘Didi’ Become CM

Mamata Banerjee won a third straight term after landslide victory in the Bengal elections. However, she faced a loss herself in Nandigram by a narrow margin. To stay on the chief minister’s chair, Banerjee has to contest by-polls within six months and become a member of the state legislative assembly.

The Trinamool MLA who won from Bhawanipore, Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, has decided to make situation easier for Banerjee by resigning from the Bengal assembly to enable his party boss to contest from the seat.

Chattopadhyay, 80, won in 2016 from the neighbouring Rashbehari seat and was state Power Minister in the previous term. For 2021 polls, chose him for her traditional seat in Bhawanipore against BJP’s actor-politician Rudranil Ghosh, while she went on to challenge Adhikari.

BJP-TMC Tussle

Banerjee’s petition came a day after Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has shared a strained relationship with the TMC government since taking charge as the governor of the state in 2019, arrived in Delhi on a four-day trip. The reason for the visit has not been specified.

Taking a dig at the governor, the chief minister said a “child can be cajoled into silence" but not an elderly man, noting that she has thrice written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw him from the state. Calling the governor a “Centre’s man", Banerjee refrained from commenting much on his meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind and several other union ministers in Delhi.

Hours before Dhankhar left for his Delhi trip, he wrote to the Bengal CM seeking an interaction with her at the earliest on the issues flagged by him. In the letter, the governor had alleged that Banerjee has been silent over post-poll violence in the state and has not taken steps to rehabilitate and compensate the suffering people.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) government slamming the governor over content of his letter that were “not consistent with real facts".

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first published:June 18, 2021, 08:25 IST