After the BJP on Saturday announced Suvendu Adhikari’s candidature from the Nandigram seat, the TMC turncoat proclaimed himself the constituency’s ‘Bhumiputra’ and said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would lose as she did not have any ‘ground connect’ with the people there.
Nandigram is the cradle of the anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted Banerjee to power in 2011, and will now witness her once protégée Suvendu Adhikari taking on her on April 1, in the second of the eight phases of polling. The 66-year-old TMC supremo, while announcing the party’s candidate list on Friday, reaffirmed her name from Nandigram. She had declared in January that she will contest the seat in the Purba Medinipur district. The BJP announced the names of a majority of its candidates for the seats going to polls in the first two phases of the elections on March 27 and April 1. For 50-year-old Adhikari, the contest in Nandigram will be a fight for his political survival as he had vowed to defeat Banerjee by over 50,000 votes in the seat or quit politics.
Adhikari had quit the TMC and resigned from the MLA post last year to join the BJP after having differences with the ruling party in the state. Banerjee, on the other hand, will contest the Nandigram seat for the first time, after relinquishing her Bhowanipore constituency in Kolkata.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18‘s Marya Shakil, Adhikari spoke on standing against Banerjee, his expectations of the elections, and much more.
Q) This will be an interesting battle in Nandigram. How tough will it be for you?
A) Not tough, not tough. BJP will win this election from Nandigram, as well as West Bengal…easily.
Q) So is this an indication that you are also the BJP’s face in Bengal; when you’re taking on the Chief Minister?
A) BJP is not a private limited corporate like the Trinamool Congress. It is a cadre-based party and has some system from the BJP high command. Parliamentary vote will decide who will lead; it’s not my personal matter.
Suvendu is present in every house in Nandigram, I have a connect on the ground that I have cultivated for 20 years. When the coronavirus lockdown happened, I helped in the relief efforts.
Q) As far as Suvendu Adhikari is concerned per se, TMC has seen saying you will not have much impact in the elections. What will you say to them?
A) After I left the party, the condition of the TMC is for everyone to see. On December 19, Amit Shah accepted me into the BJP-fold, and since then look at the condition of the Trinamool Congress. Today Dinesh Trivedi also left the party. I only started things on December 19, and after that, their condition has been in the open for the whole country to witness.
Q) What will be the role of the Left Front-Congress-ISF alliance in this election?
A) Politically, according to on ground conditions, they are an irrelevant force. In Bengal, it is being witnessed that everyone has an internal, external alliance to ‘stop BJP, stop Vikaas (development)’.
People know everything that I have done, which is why I don’t need publicity. I am Nandigram’s Bhumiputra (son of the soil), but Mamata is an outsider. She has no connect of love or work with the people, so they will not accept her.
Q) Will you only concentrate on Nandigram or will you also campaign in other constituencies?
A) Whatever responsibility the party gives me, I will do. This is not my individual decision. Suvendu is present in every house in Nandigram, I have a connect on the ground that I have cultivated for 20 years. When the coronavirus lockdown happened, I helped in the relief efforts. Lots of migrant workers from Nandigram came back through Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special Shramik trains. Mamata Banerjee did not visit Nandigram in the aftermath of the Amphan cyclone, as well. I roamed villages, houses to carry out Amphan relief work. People know everything that I have done, which is why I don’t need publicity. I am Nandigram’s Bhumiputra (son of the soil), but Mamata is an outsider. She has no connect of love or work with the people, so they will not accept her.
‘Will Handsomely Defeat Mamata’
Meanwhile, Adhikari slammed Banerjee on Saturday for “running away” from her Bhowanipore seat in Kolkata. He said he was “200 per cent” sure of handsomely defeating the TMC supremo.
“Why have you deserted your Bhowanipore constituency? Why have you run away? Is it because the BJP had won in the booth at Mitra Institution in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? You cannot even win in your own locality,” Adhikari said at a rally in Behala area of Kolkata.
Attacking the Banerjee family, Adhikari alleged that due to barricades and security arrangements in front of the chief minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s house on Harish Mukherjee Road, people are being inconvenienced as they are unable to take out any kind of procession, including the religious ones. He alleged that many small businesses in the area had to be shut down and the plots were given to big businessmen “to suit the interest of one family”. Adhikari said that the CBI did the right thing by questioning the Banerjee family as they are not above the law.
Alleging large-scale irregularities in SSC, he said, “If voted to power, the BJP will fix the issue and ensure transparency in all recruitment exams, bringing smiles on the faces of three crore unemployed youths. The poor people who lost their money in ponzi scams like Saradha are yet to get back their money. These scams flourished under the patronage of the TMC ministers. Once elected to power, the BJP will ensure that the money is returned to these depositors,” he said.