Its Mamata Banerjee vs Suvendu Adhikari in West Bengal; PM Modi likely to take a call
Kolkata, Mar 05: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to face a do-or-die contest in the state election with Suvendu Adhikari, her former top aide who ditched the Trinamool Congress and defected to the BJP in December. During a strategy meeting last evening featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP discussed fielding Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram, one of the two seats Mamata Banerjee has pledged to contest.
The other candidate discussed in the meeting to finalise names for the Bengal election was Babul Supriyo, the BJP's Asansol MP.
According to reports, the Union Minister volunteered his name for Bhawanipore, Mamata Banerjee's constituency and the second seat she is likely to contest in the assembly election that will stretch over eight rounds and 33 days.
It is also said that the decision on both candidates has been left to PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda. The Big 3 of the BJP will decide on Nandigram, Bhawanipore and 13 other key constituencies of Bengal.
The Central Election Committee held discussions till late evening at the BJP headquarters in Delhi. Suvendu Adhikari, who was present, told his new bosses that he was confident of defeating former mentor Mamata Banerjee by at least 50,000 votes in Nandigram - the constituency he nurtured for years and shaped as a Trinamool Congress stronghold.
A Mamata Banerjee versus Suvendu Adhikari confrontation has been in the making ever since the Chief Minister announced in January at a rally in Nandigram - her first in five years -- that she would contest from there.
Nandigram was the epicenter of a farmers' movement that propelled Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress to power in Bengal 10 years ago. But the man who worked to build the party's base in Nandigram was Suvendu Adhikari, who represented the constituency.
PM Modi reportedly advised Bengal leaders in yesterday's meeting against getting provoked or speaking out of turn and urged them to maintain decorum in their public statements.
According to reports, the Prime Minister also asked the leaders, including Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee about the "mood" in Bengal. Another meeting on Bengal may be held on March 9.
BJP chief Nadda has been authorized to decide on candidates for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.
Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry will start voting on March 27 for state elections. The results will be announced on May 2.