West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has filed her nomination papers from the high-profile Nandigram Assembly seat in in Purba Medinipur district on Wednesday. Mamata will cross swords with her former close aide-turned-bete noire Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP in Nandigram. She arrived here on Tuesday and visited a temple and a mausoleum.
The TMC supremo, after addressing a party workers' meeting on Tuesday, paid her reverence at the local mazar, popular among members of the minority community, and then offered prayers at Maa chandi temple nearby. As she entered the temple, women, who lined up next to the shrine, blew conch shells to greet her. At the mausoleum, too, she was extended a warm welcome. Next, Banerjee visited a roadside stall, where she prepared tea for the customers, much to the astonishment of the shop owner.
"I am here to serve all, no matter which section they belong to. People are with me, 100 per cent of them. On Shivratri (Thursday), I will be offering puja at a temple, which is close to my accommodation in Nandigram, interact with people there and then file my nomination," she said.
Banerjee will contest from the Nandigram seat for the first time after relinquishing the Bhowanipore constituency in Kolkata, from where she had won twice. The TMC supremo has rented a house in Nandigram and will campaign from there.
Adhikari will file nomination from here on March 12. The BJP leader will open an election office in Nandigram today and later hold a roadshow. "After filing nomination papers (on March 12), he will address a rally," BJP leader Kanishka Panda said.
Nandigram, the cradle of the anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted Banerjee to power in 2011, will witness her once protege Suvendu Adhikari taking on her on April 1, in the second of the eight phases of polling.
For 50-year-old Adhikari, the contest in Nandigram will be a fight for his political survival as he had vowed to defeat Banerjee by over 50,000 votes in the seat or quit politics. Adhikari won the Nandigram seat in the 2016 assembly election, while another TMC candidate emerged victorious from the constituency in 2011.
The former minister had quit the TMC and resigned from the assembly last year to join the BJP after having differences with the state's ruling party.
Elections in Bengal, poised to be a stiff contest between the TMC and the BJP, will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2.