Accepting Mamata Banerjee's challenge, Suvendu Adhikari said in Kolkata that he would quit politics if he failed to defeat Banerjee by more than 50,000 votes.
The BJP's state unit president Dilip Ghosh said that Mamata Banerjee was trying to find an escape route from her present constituency, Bhawanipur, sensing imminent defeat.
The CPI(m)'s Sujan Chakraborty and the Congress' Abdul Mannan too said that Banerjee was changing her constituency to avoid a defeat.
Earlier in the day, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that she will contest the 2021 Assembly elections from Nandigram, the assembly constituency of former Trinamool Congress heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari who recently joined the BJP.
Nandigram is in the coastal district of East Midnapore where a land agitation spearheaded by her in 2007-08 played a pivotal role behind her ascend to power in 2011.
During 2007-08, Suvendu Adhikari was her general in Nandigram. Overall, politics in the district is dominated by the Adhikari family, with Suvendu's father, Sisir, being a veteran TMC leader and Lok Sabha MP, and one of his younger brothers, Dibyendu, representing the other Lok Sabha seat in the district.
One of his younger brothers, Soumendu, has already joined the BJP and there are talks that Dibyendu may follow suit. Octogenarian Sisir has kept himself aloof from political activities.
Mamata Banerjee Monday paid her first visit to Nandigram after Suvendu Adhikari, who held three ministerial portfolios and was a member of the TMC's highest decision-making body, the seven-member steering committee, joined the BJP in December in the presence of union home minister Amit Shah. Since then, Suvendu had repeatedly vowed to wipe out the TMC from East Midnapore and its neighbouring districts in southwestern Bengal.
"I am urging the party's state unit president to keep my name in mind as the candidate from Nandigram. I won't be able to give much time during the elections, as I have to work on all 294 constituencies. But you (people) do your work during the elections and I will look after the rest after the elections," Banerjee said.
This meant she has decided to take Adhikari head-on.
She may also contest from her present constituency, Bhawanipur, in Kolkata. "I don't want to deprive my own Bhawanipur either. So, I may contest from both," she said.
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