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High stakes: BJP fields Suvendu against Mamata in Nandigram

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

KOLKATA: Former Mamata Banerjee acolyte Suvendu Adhikari was on Saturday officially named the candidate who will be contesting the high-stakes Nandigram seats against her.

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BJP’s national general secretary Arun Singh announced Adhikari’s candidature at the party headquarters in Delhi while releasing a list of 57 nominees for the 60 seats going to vote in the first two phases of the eight-phase Bengal polls, beginning March 27.

Several East Midnapore and West Midnapore nominations have gone to defectors, with the most prominent of them being Adhikari himself. Other defectors to have got tickets in East and West Midnapore are Tapasi Mandal (Haldia, outgoing CPM MLA), former Trinamool zilla parishad office-bearers Amulya Maiti (Sabang), Ramprasad Giri (Narayangarh), former Trinamool Ramjibanpur Municipality chairman Shibram Das (Chandrakona) and former CPM Paschim Midnapore zilla parishad chairperson Antara Bhattacharya (Pingla). Another defector, outgoing Congress MLA Sudip Mukherjee, has been named the Purulia candidate.

Altogether, BJP announced candidates for 30 out of East and West Midnapore’s 31 seats. It is yet to name the candidate for Kharagpur Sadar, from where Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh made his assembly debut in 2016. Ghosh resigned as MLA after he got elected from the Midnapore Lok Sabha constituency in 2019. BJP also didn’t announce candidates for Kashipur in Purulia and Barjora in Bankura. The Baghmundi seat in Purulia has gone to ally All Jharkhand Students’ Union.

BJP fielded cricketer Ashok Dinda in Moyna constituency of East Midnapore and retired IIM-C professor Ambujaksha Mahanti in Patashpur.

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The Mahato community (kudmis), fighting for recognition as scheduled tribes, has been given representation in three general category seats — Gopiballavpur, Balarampur and Joypur — as against santhals, who got tickets in seven seats reserved for scheduled tribes. The Bauri community has also found fair representation in the 12 seats reserved for scheduled castes.

As the poll trail heats up, BJP’s chief campaigner in the first two phases, Adhikari, has resorted to using the “outsider” slogan against Mamata, who had slapped the same tag on PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda. “Nandigram wants a son of the soil. Voters here won’t support an outsider coming after five years. She has fled from her home turf because the party didn’t win in the Mitra Institution polling centre where she casts her vote,” Adhikari said.

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