31 Mar 2021: Bengal: Campaigning for second phase ends, all eyes on Nandigram
The campaigning for the second phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal ended on Tuesday, with heavyweights from both the sides — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) — trying to woo voters.
Of the 30 constituencies that will vote tomorrow, the most closely-watched seat is Nandigram, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is locking horns with her protégé-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari.
History: The 2007 Nandigram agitation had laid groundwork for Banerjee's rule
For Banerjee, Nandigram holds special importance, as it was the 2007 land acquisition row in this rural area that catapulted her to power. Riding on the agitation's success, she ended the 34-year-long Left Front rule in West Bengal in 2011.
This time around, the contest turned into a prestige battle after the Adhikari ditched TMC, joined BJP, and was given a ticket from there.
Campaigning: I hit streets during Nandigram agitation: Banerjee told voters
Yesterday, Banerjee crisscrossed the constituency, fired a salvo at BJP, and called her former trusted lieutenant a "traitor."
"During the Nandigram agitation, I hit the streets, they (Suvendu and his father Sisir Adhikari) did not," she said at a public gathering.
When Banerjee asked Khela Hobe?, the crowd erupted in cheers. Some supporters wore caps reading, "Bangla nijer meyeke chai (Bengal wants her daughter)."
What happened: I am Shandilya, said Banerjee, playing the gotra card
The incumbent CM also played one final card to strike a chord with voters. She declared that she belongs to the Shandilya gotra — one of the eight highest Brahmin gotras.
Moreover, after addressing the last public meeting, she also rose from her wheelchair during the national anthem.
Banerjee was injured earlier this month when she had visited the area to file nomination papers.
Fact: 'I have sustained injuries on my entire body'
"I have been targeted and was injured many times. I have sustained injuries on my entire body. Outsiders plotted against me and I got injured in Nandigram. Since 8th I have been campaigning and I will go on campaigning for a month," Banerjee stated.
Shah's campaign: Meanwhile, Shah led a roadshow, sought votes for Adhikari
On the other hand, BJP's high-voltage campaign was led by Home Minister Amit Shah. He steered a roadshow, which saw the presence of drummers and bagpipers.
Chants like "Dole dole Nandigram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram" and "Krishna Krishna hare hare, BJP ghare ghare," were heard.
The route of the roadshow was dotted with huge cut-outs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah.
Statement: 'There is a mood to bring about poriborton in Bengal'
Addressing a press meet after the roadshow, Shah exuded confidence about Adhikari's win.
"There is a mood to bring about poriborton (change) in Bengal. An easy way to do this is to defeat Banerjee by a big margin. One needs to have a huge margin so that no political leader dares to undermine people's aspirations," he said.
He also questioned Banerjee over women's safety.
Claims: Banerjee has a habit of lying: Adhikari
Actor-turned-politician Mithun Chakraborty and Adhikari also held a roadshow, that drew hundreds of people.
Adhikari claimed that Banerjee has a habit of lying. "She should talk about issues like employment and investment," he said.
To note, the first phase of Assembly polls, which took place on Saturday, saw a turnout of 79.79%. The results will be declared on May 2.