|  |  | 

India Top Headlines

Will the Mamata vs. Suvendu contest polarize Nandigram voters? | India News

NEW DELHI: In politics, there have been several cases of friends who have become enemies, of helpers who have turned rivals into their mentors. Nandigram in West Bengal is poised for a similar high-octane political battle between two politicians who were once together but are now on opposite sides of the political divide.
West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her trusted aide Suvendu Adhikari owe a lot to Nandigram for their political identity in the state. The movement against Tata’s Nano project in Singur and Nandigram was instrumental in catapulting Mamata to power in 2011 and also in making Suvendu a powerful leader in the region.
Ten years later, people in the region still seem to be debating whether opposition to the industry was the right thing to do. Some who have regained their land and have successfully returned to farming are very happy. But several others who could not benefit substantially from agriculture have wondered if industry would have been a better option.
And while the “agriculture versus industry” division of the population is one aspect of the region’s politics, there is another division spoken of in Nandigram in the run-up to the 2021 assembly elections: the 70:30 division. .
Suvendu Adhikari, the BJP candidate for Nandigram, at one of his election rallies in January claimed that Mamata’s political strategist Prashant Kishor had said that the Trinamool Congress would win the full support of 30 percent of the population, a reference to minorities in the state of West Bengal.
Then Adhikari appealed to the remaining 70% of the population to stand together and defeat the Trinamool ruler in the state. With the BJP aggressively targeting Mamata for the appeasement policy, the Trinamool chief has been forced to correct course with temple visits and donations to Hindu priests in the run-up to the elections.
So will Nandigram voters be swayed by the “agriculture versus industries” debate or are they likely to polarize along religious lines?
Nandigram over the years has witnessed some close contests that suggest that religious polarization may not have been the dominant factor during voting. In 1996, Congress won this seat by just 138 votes (.11 percent). In fact, the margin of victory has been less than 10 percent in Nandigram in several other assembly elections between 1977 and 2011.
However, in the 2016 assembly elections, Suvendu Adhikari won the seat in a TMC candidacy by more than 80,000 votes, which translated into a 40.30 percent margin of victory. Also in 2011, TMC’s margin of victory was 43,640 votes, which was 25.42%.
Here’s a look at the winning margin of the winners at Nandigram over the years.

But Nandigram’s political dynamics have changed dramatically between 2016 and 2021.
While the TMC has been far ahead in the last two assembly elections thanks to the Nano agitation, this time the party has lost its winning horse: the adhikaris, who wield immense influence in the region.
The BJP, on the other hand, has reason to be hopeful.
People in the Nandigram assembly segment voted in large numbers for the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And with Adhikaris on their side, the BJP is confident of defeating Mamata.
Nandigram is part of the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, which was won by Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Dibyendu from the Trinamool Congress in 2019.
Dibyendu Adhikari obtained 7,24,433 votes, while Sidharthashankar Naskar of the BJP was second with 5,34,268 votes in the seat of Tamluk Lok Sabha.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was won by TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari, who garnered 7,16,928 votes. However, Sekh Ibrahim Ali of the CPM with 4,70,447 votes was in the second position, while the BJP candidate, Badsha Alam, could only handle 86,265 votes and was in the third position.

A comparison of the votes obtained by the BJP in Nandigram shows that the party’s vote count increased from 10,798 votes in 2014 to 62,268 votes in 2019.
Significantly, the CPM, which garnered 4.1735 votes in Nandigram in 2014, saw its tally reduced to 9,353 in 2019.
Clearly, there was a move away from the CPM in 2019 and the beneficiary of that change was the BJP.
The BJP would hope to build on their 2019 success and defeat Mamata in the Adhikari stronghold.

Times of India