Elections 2021

Mamata Banerjee loses to Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on May 03, 2021

Mamata can still be sworn in as chief minister, but she has to win a by-election to continue holding the office.

After a close fight, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee finally lost to Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram by a margin of 1,957 votes.

While the counting went down to the wire as expected, Banerjee was pitted against her protégé turned bête noire Suvendu.

Despite her loss, she has shaken the Adihikari citadels of Purba Midnapore, and Paschim Midnapore that many, including the BJP, thought were impregnable. This justified the big-ticket induction of the Adhikari into the BJP and his rising prominence in the party.

The Trinamool Congress is demanding a recount in Nandigram, and Banerjee alleging that “there is some mischief” said she would move court against the result.

“How come one constituency has given a verdict that is completely against the mandate of the people of the State? They did some arrangement there. My people are telling me. I will move court against the results there,” she said.

As an afterthought, Banerjee added: “I know it does not matter for one seat. My party has got a resounding majority across the State.”

Rules state that Banerjee can still be sworn in as chief minister despite losing an election, but she has to win a by-election to continue holding the office.

National Aspirations

Hinting at her national aspirations, she said, the Centre should look at free vaccination immediately for the entire 138 crore-odd population.”I speak on behalf of India. A cost of Rs 30,000 crore for free vaccination is not at all an issue for the Centre. They have the RBI, can release bonds or so on,” Banerjee said while threatening to go on a “dharna” if her demand is not met.

Claiming that controlling the Covid surge was her immediate priority, the Trinamool supremo said there would be victory rallies or processions. A later date will be announced.

Calling her “double century mandate” as “a landslide victory and a resounding win” Banerjee said: “Its not a double engine. But, a double century now. Bengal saved India and it democracy. We will give free vaccines to all here. Everybody should now shut up. And some officials, who sided with outsiders, remember that I am watching you. I know what you did."

Most difficult fight

Incidentally, Nandigram was the most fiercely contested seat this poll season. The chief minister herself took charge of the election campaign there, supervised poll-preparedness, which probably helped in the neck-to-neck fight.

Banerjee posted a battery of senior leaders to Nandigram to oversee the poll preparations. Trinamool’s national secretary Subrata Bakshi, veteran peasant movement leader Purnendu Bose, MP Dola Sen, among others, had camped in Nandigram for weeks.

The Nandigram campaign took a communal turn with Suvendu Adhikari name-calling the local Muslims.

Banerjee gave up contesting in Bhowanipore – where she had won during her previous two terms. The Trinamool secured a win there (in Bhownaipore) and many had argued against Banerjee’s switch.

After Adhikari repeatedly challenged her to contest Nandigram, Banerjee was left with no option but accept it from her one-time-protégé. It was never an easy battle for her. But one that Banerjee had to take-up to re-establish her political supremacy.

Published on May 03, 2021

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