West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, out of the blue announced that she is planning to contest the upcoming Assembly elections from two seats viz. Bhowanipur and Nandigram. “I have always started my campaign for the assembly polls from Nandigram. It is a lucky place for me. So this time I feel that I should contest the assembly polls from here. I request our state party president Subrata Bakshi to approve my name from this seat,’ said Banerjee at a rally in Nandigram.
Just like Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 General elections, the TMC supremo has found refuge in the Nandigram seat as her fortunes on the incumbent Bhowanipur seat are not looking promising. And if the current reading of the political climate is any indication, Mamata could be staring at twin defeats on both the seats.
The reason being, since 1947, the bhadralok community has dominated both politics as well as the culture of West Bengal, and more so on the Bhowanipur seat where Mamata Banerjee contests elections. The educated, middle and upper-middle class, of Bengal who had once given their seal of approval to Mamata Banerjee’s bid to oust the Left from Bengal, has now grown weary of her vote bank and appeasement politics.
Furthermore, the phoenix-like rise of BJP in Bengal and the renewed interest of upper-class Bhadraloks in the saffron party could further dent Mamata Banerjee’s chances of retaining the seat. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP pulled a bunny out of the hat by winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state and crossed the 40 percent vote share mark, a 23 percentage points jump from its 2014 performance.
Secondly, it is imperative to note that Suvendhu Adhikari who recently defected from TMC to BJP is a sitting MLA from Nandigram. By parachuting on the same seat, Mamata Banerjee is trying to stop Adhikari in his tracts and make him focus solely on his seat. Currently, Adhikari is on a whirlwind tour of the state to consolidate votes for the BJP.
Nandigram and Singur were the two hotspots where TMC built its foundation to come to power in 2011. Mamata’s blood-stained protests against Tata’s Nano factory brought her into the limelight and eventually power but not many know that it was Suvdendhu Adhikari who was the force behind the Nandigram movement.
Since then he went from strength to strength and has a proven track record of winning be it the Assembly or the Lok Sabha elections. Over the years he has extended his clout beyond his home district of Purba Medinipur to Jangalmahal — Bankura, Purulia, and Paschim Medinipur districts.
And just the way Sarma ended up delivering the North East to the BJP which earlier used to be a stronghold of the INC. However, as reported by TFI, Mamata has committed a similar folly with Suvendu Adhikari as the former TMC heavyweight is all set to become the BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma in Bengal.
Another major headache for Mamta Banerjee is the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM. Nandigram is a constituency where the minority class has a significant influence. According to the Religious composition data of blocks of Nandigram-I, Nandigram-II and the census town of Nandigram, Muslims had a population share of 34 percent, 12.1percent, and 40.3 percent respectively in these census units.
Media reports have been swirling around suggesting, ‘if Mamata indeed goes ahead and contests the election here, Owaisi could field his Muslim candidate on the seat.’ And as we have seen already in the last Bihar assembly elections, AIMIM can be a giant-killer, and TMC, its big victim.
AIMIM won 5 seats and hurt the fortunes of RJD, JDU, as well a congress on several other seats. While the Hindu and Bhadralok votes on the seat will go comfortably with Adhikari, the only vote bank Mamata had her hopes on could be, well and truly divided.
As the elections are approaching, Mamata Banerjee and her TMC is getting the reality check that the ground is quietly slipping from beneath her, which explains her sudden decision to jump on two boats.