Significance Of Nandigram In West Bengal Elections

The assembly constituency of Nandigram, which will witness a high-octane, high profile battle between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her former ministerial colleague and now BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, will go to the polls in the second phase of the ongoing West Bengal assembly elections on April 1.

Adhikari had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in December last year and is raring to give a tough fight to the Trinamool Congress chief.

What does Nandigram mean in West Bengal polls?

Nandigram is touted to be the deciding constituency in the Bengal polls. BJP’s chances of winning the state assembly elections would increase manifold if they can somehow manage to win Nandigram.

In the 2016 by-election for the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, which includes Nandigram, BJP got about 196,000 votes. However, BJP inflicted a shock to the TMC when it won 18 Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of more than 40 percent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

And it is the performance in the 2019 general assembly elections that has made the BJP a serious contender for power in the state. While the party did very well in the hills — north Bengal, and the Jangalmahal region — it failed to cross a critical threshold in the south Bengal region. South Bengal is the most populous region of the state and accounts for 167 out of the 294 assembly constituencies. Unless the BJP makes significant advances in south Bengal, it would be very difficult for the BJP to beat TMC.

What changed West Bengal’s political landscape in 2007?

Violence took place in Nandigram in 2007 in the aftermath of a failed project by the communist government of West Bengal to acquire land for a special economic zone. The policy led to an emergency in the region, and 14 people lost their lives in a police shooting.

Mamata and her party noted the issue and raised the slogan “Ma Mati Manush” (Mother, Motherland and People) which was used in their election campaigns. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) later exonerated the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government of responsibility for the shootings.

Mamata later claimed that the violence was indeed planned by the Adhikaris, who were members of TMC back then, to dethrone the communist government.

Fourteen years after a bloody farmland agitation in Nandigram changed the political landscape in West Bengal, battle lines have been redrawn in Nandigram — a place that shook the foundations of the mighty 34-year-old Left Front regime in the state and propelled TMC to power in 2011.

Adhikari has claimed that BJP will defeat Mamata — who is for the first time contesting from Nandigram — by a margin of over 50,000 votes, something which will be known only once the counting takes place on May 2. (ANI)

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