The battle of Nandigram
West Bengal elections 2021 and especially the Nandigram Bengal Election Campaign are raging fire. Fiery speeches, public meetings, celebrity road-shows have changed the political landscape of Nandigram. This small constituency has become the hot seat of the steamy Bengal elections. The battle lines have been drawn or rather re-drawn as the constituency gears up for the polls tomorrow. What changed in the fourteen years after the bloody farmland agitation of Nandigram will soon unfold.
The warring parties in the Nandigram Bengal Election Campaign
The 2007 team of Mamata leading the anti-land acquisition protest in Nandigram has not just split but is at loggerheads. Mamata’s close aide and ground-level strategist from Nandigram, Suvendu Adhikary, is standing right against her this time.
Apart from the steamy contest of BJP versus TMC, CPI(M) has also fielded its candidate in the high-stakes battle. Minkashi Mukherjee is representing the coalition of Left and Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF. The clout of the Indian Secular Front will definitely divert Muslim votes away from TMC if not anything else. This too will influence the election results heavily in the state given that Nandigram has a considerable Muslim voter base. That is why the Nandigram Bengal Election Campaign has reached such a pitch.
The demographic landscape of Nandigram
In the three blocks of Nandigram, Muslims had a population share of 34%, 12.1%, and 40.3% respectively as per the 2011 census. Although the Assembly Constituency does not completely overlap with these block territorial boundaries, the voter base would largely remain the same.
BJP hardly stands a chance to win these Muslim votes. Suvendu Adhikary having realized this is actively catalyzing his Hindu vote share in the region. His remarks on ‘mini Pakistan and ‘Begum’ are making his election campaign clearly communally polarized. This timely shift in his election campaign strategy might benefit him in the short run but the battlelines will sketch permanent divisions in the political landscape of Bengal.
Why is Nandigram so important?
The Home Minister Amit Shah is campaigning for Suvendu Adhikary along with Mithun Chakraborty. Mamata Bannerjee is lodged in Nandigram for a dedicated 5-day campaign. All attention by a sitting chief minister and party head towards this one small constituency highlights the importance it holds. Mamata Bannerjee’s political rise began from this very place during the 2007 land-acquisition protests. Both parties are now running high-octane campaigns in the constituency.
It is the home ground for Suvendu Adhikary, who won the 2016 Assembly seat from Nandigram with a whopping 67% votes. He challenged Mamata to contest from Nandigram, which she brazenly accepted.
Nandigram is not just a battleground for prestige war. It is being seen as the key to the whole of Bengal. As seen from the 2019 general assembly election results, BJP did remarkably well in the north Bengal and Jangalmahal region but is yet to make inroads in the populous south Bengal region. Nandigram is, thus, seen as the deciding seat for the BJP versus TMC battle in Bengal.
With campaigning freezed, the road-show curtain is already down. The polling is all set to begin in Nandigram. Now May 2 is not far when the will of the voters of Bengal will be out in the open.
Also Read: West Bengal Election 2021 2nd phase