Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 07:45 [IST]
Last Update: Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 02:18 [IST]
SILIGURI,: The first blare of the election trumpet in West Bengal has been sounded.
Of the 294 Assembly seats in the taking in the state, the Trinamool now has 292 more candidates to declare.
Party chief Mamata Banerjee has announced her candidature from the Nandigram and Bhawanipore Assembly constituencies. And, her wish is holy writ in that party.
The only person in the Trinamool who might feel let down with this development is the one who was fancying the party ticket from Nandigram following Suvendu Adhikary’s departure to the BJP.
The rest are calling it a master-stroke.
The development has several sides to it. First it goes on to show that Mamata has decided to take on the BJP head on and so Nandigram it is.
Struggle for land rights on behalf of Nandigram and Singur residents between 2006 and 2010 had catapulted Mamata and her party to the seat of power in the state in 2011.
So, Nandigram is symbolic for the current dispensation.
But, it didn’t turn symbolic this year. It was so from day the Trinamool assumed power in the state. Why then this extra focus on the constituency this year?
The reason can be summed up in two words – Suvendu Adhikary.
Swaying leaders of other parties to swell its fold is one game the Trinamool knows how to play well.
It has been fattening off the others particularly the Congress and the Left since it came to power in 2011.
The BJP, which is currently on an enviable rise in Bengal, knows how to play that game too and it is playing it with some zest in Bengal. And, the BJP’s sole target is the Trinamool rank and file.
But, there is a marked difference in how the Trinamool and the BJP play the game respectively.
While the Trinamool won over leaders from the Opposition - through coercion as the Opposition allege, after it came to power in the state, the BJP is netting them before it has come to power, if it comes to power that is.
And, of the big catches the BJP made from the Trinamool recently, the biggest was Suvendu Adhikary, whom many claim was the second most popular mass leader in the Trinamool after Mamata.
With Suvendu walking into the BJP camp, his father and brothers, all people’s representatives, earned the Trinamool’s ire. It is believed they too are now in the BJP waiting list.
And this where the import of Mamata’s desire to contest from Nandigram is, for Suvendu was the Nandigram legislator on a Trinamool ticket till he resigned in December 2020 and joined the BJP.
So, master-stroke or not, Mamata’s declaration to contest from Nandigram is a clear popularity challenge to Suvendu, the BJP and the Adhikary family hegemony, all rolled in one.
What now remains the point of interest is, is the BJP game to the challenge and would it field Suvendu from Nandigram?
More importantly, is Suvendu up to it? The calculations have changed suddenly.