BJP leaders Dilip Ghosh, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Shiv Prakash, Mukul Roy and others held three back-to-back meetings for screening potential candidates for over 100 seats. The battle for Nandigram was discussed as a potential opportunity to take on the CM directly, and also, the winnability and likely change of constituencies of over 17 MLAs who have joined BJP recently was looked into. ET has learnt that many of the rebel MLAs could get tickets. The final decision on the candidates is likely to be made by the party’s parliamentary board. Meanwhile, the TMC is likely to release names of all 294 candidates in one go on Friday.
Banerjee is likely to file her nomination for the assembly Polls from Nandigram on March 11. On January 18, the chief minister had announced she will contest from Nandigram as well as Bhowanipur seats. She had said that she can forget her name but she cannot forget Nandigram. On Wednesday, Adhikari has said even if the party doesn’t field him from Nandigram against TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, he will ensure that she loses the contest in Nandigram, which is considered a bastion of the Adhikari family for 40 years.
Adhikari has represented Nandigram as a Trinamool Congress MLA for years before he quit to join BJP in December last year. Banerjee has thrown an open challenge to Suvendu with her decision to contest from Nandigram in a high-stakes battle. According to reports, the ISF, Furfura Sharif cleric Abbas Siddiqui’s party is also expected to put up a candidate here.
As per the BJP’s internal assessment, Nandigram with 26 muslims and around 53 mahishya (peasant community that come under general category) will be easy for the party. “Even without the ISF, it won’t be difficult for the BJP. It will also confine the CM to focus on this area. It is clearly a man-marking technique too,” a party leader said.
“There is a significant number of Dalits here that will benefit the BJP,” Sajjan Kumar, political researcher, said calling Nandigram a prestige battle now, and adding that the clout of Adhikari over Nandigram and nearby areas is undeniable. “He was the henchman here who delivered this area to the TMC. And no one can deny his role in the Nandigram movement despite the hostility he faced there. He has huge traction among Dalits, and till recently even with Muslims. With him gone to the BJP and the EC doing its own work to ensure free and fair voting, the equation changes completely.”