On the day the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the eight-phase polling dates for the West Bengal assembly elections, fresh troubles started brewing for CM Mamata Banerjee and her party TMC. While the big stalwarts had already jumped out of the sinking, derelict ship of TMC much before the dates were announced, the remaining party leaders, afraid and sensing an inevitable danger of losing the deposits are refusing to fight the elections.
Sitting MLA from Mongolkot in East Burdwan district, Siddiqullah Chowdhury – one of the key faces behind the Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement – has decided not to contest from his own constituency in the upcoming assembly polls.
Citing ‘indifferent behavior’, ‘unorganized functioning of the district leadership’ and ‘lack of courtesy’ as the reasons for his decision to ditch Mamata at the eleventh hour, Chowdhury said, “I have informed everything about the poor leadership in the district to our party chief Mamata Banerjee. I felt that some party leaders in the district are not performing the way they should considering the crucial polls.”
Chowdhury, who is also the head of an organization named Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, has been a trusted lieutenant of Mamata and one of the most influential minority leaders of the state. In the 2016 assembly polls, Siddiqullah Chowdhury won the Mongolkot seat by defeating his nearest rival, Sahajahan Chowdhury of the CPI (M), by a margin of nearly 12,000 votes.
Mamata had then made him a cabinet minister and he was given the portfolio of minister of state (independent charge) in mass education, library and parliamentary affairs. The cabinet minister had toed Mamata’s line on several contentious issues such as CAA and NRC by protesting vociferously and speaking for TMC and Mamata. Thus his decision of backtracking puts Mamata in a pickle as her resource arsenal continues to wear a thin look.
Such is the desperation of TMC supremo that in January, she announced her decision to contest the upcoming Assembly elections from two seats viz. Bhowanipur and Nandigram. While the former is her incumbent seat, the latter is the seat of heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari who last year switched the flanks to BJP, and currently is the biggest thorn in the way for Mamata.
Adhikari holds the key to the entire South Bengal region and BJP is counting on him to harvest the votes which he once did for Mamata. With no soldiers left in the party, Mamata took the decision upon her herself to fight the election against Adhikari.
However, soon after her announcement, BJP threw a dicey challenge her way and to date, neither Mamata nor TMC has been able to come up with any retort to it.
Reported by TFI, Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya challenged CM Mamata by asking her to repose her faith in the Nandigram seat by only contesting from there.
“Mamata Banerjee has announced to contest assembly elections from Nandigram. But, she did not say that she will contest from here only! If she is confident of her victory, make this announcement too! … Otherwise, it will be understood that you do not trust Nandigram!,” tweeted Vijayvargia.
Recently, former cricketer and state minister, LaxmiRatan Shukla, after resigning from Mamata’s cabinet decided not to contest the upcoming elections on TMC ticket. Another TMC MLA from Bardhaman Dakhin Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay, who is a former minister for the departments of Technical Education & Training and Science & Technology & Biotechnology, has refused to contest the election on health issues.
The surgical strike by BJP on TMC yielded the desired results as biggies like Suvendu Adhikari, former TMC MP Sunil Mondal, and former party MLAs Arindam Bhattacharya and Vaishali Dalmia – all joined the BJP to dent Mamata’s fortunes in the upcoming elections. With other TMC leaders getting cold feet, the road ahead looks increasingly tough, arduous, and bumpy for Didi as she scurries around to hold her tainted legacy.