West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused the BJP workers of distributing money using vehicles belonging to the central forces to lure voters in Nandigram. Nandigram Assembly constituency, a high-stake constituency in Purba Medinipur district, will go to the polls along with 29 other constituencies in the second phase on April 1, and it will be the mother of all battles between Mamata Banerjee and BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari.
While addressing a huge crowd at Sonachura Bazar after leading an 8-km-long ‘padayatra’ from Reyapara Khudiram More to Thakur Chowk in her wheelchair, Mamata said: “I have information that vehicles belong to central forces are distributing money and terrorising the villagers. Not the least, the BJP leaders from other States are distributing money from hotels in Kolkata. I would like to request you all to give a befitting reply to the BJP.”
She said, “We are concerned that police and paramilitary forces are not working impartially. A large number of goons came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to create problems during elections. It is unfortunate that the Election Commission (EC) is mum and doing nothing. I would like to question why the EC is mum on outsider’s goons. Why EC is allowing goons from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.”
Claiming that the money which BJP is distributing to lure voters is ill gotten money, she said, “It is not their money. It came after ‘notebandi’ (demonetisation), this money came from the PM Care Fund. This is public money. Let them apply all their strategies here in Bengal. One thing is clear that they will be shown the door by the people in Bengal on May 2. Please vote in large numbers in favour of ‘Cool Cool Trinamool’.”
On January 18, Mamata played a masterstroke after she announced to contest from Nandigram. Then, addressing a huge public rally at Tekhali in Nandigram, Mamata, had said, “Nandigram is close to my heart. I can forget my name, but I cannot forget Nandigram. Considering the emotional attachment, I have with the people of Nandigram, today I am announcing that I wish to contest the upcoming poll from Nandigram.”
“I would like to request my State president Subrata Bakshi to consider my name as the candidate from Nandigram in 2021 State polls. Nandigram is lucky for me. I will not neglect the Bhawanipur seat also. I promise to the people of Bhawanipur that I will give a good candidate there,” she had said.
Nandigram is considered as a strong bastion of rebel TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari (now in BJP) and Mamata’s decision to contest from this region could be seen as her direct challenge to the Adhikari family.
For a couple of years her relationship with Suvendu, who once a close and trusted aide of Mamata, turned sour over differences of opinion. Banerjee demolished the rule of the Left while riding the Singur and Nandigram anti-land acquisition movements, which have left the ‘Left’ insignificant in the state’s politics.
Now once again TMC’s decision to field Mamata from Nandigram considering the ‘dominant minorities’ in this region was a well-thought strategy by ‘Didi’ to corner the BJP in Bengal.