Responding to critics who have claimed that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is an outsider in Nandigram, the TMC supremo said such people only consider those “coming from Gujarat” as insiders.
Banerjee will file her nomination papers to contest from the Nandigram constituency on Wednesday.
In a veiled attack against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, the TMC supremo further said people who have “sold their souls to outsiders from Gujarat” are insulting the city’s land-displacement movement by playing the communal card. Banerjee made the comments while addressing booth-level TMC workers in the city.
Nandigram, located in East Mindapore district, was the site of the much-talked-about anti-displacement movement that played a pivotal role behind the fall of the 34-year-old Left Front regime.
Banerjee is pitted against her former confidante Suvendu Adhikari, who recently joined the BJP.
Without naming Adhikari, Banerjee said she had made up her mind to contest either from Singur or Nandigram--the two cradles of anti-land acquisition movement-- that catapulted her to power in 2011.
She further said that she decided to contest from Nandigram because of the overwhelming response from the people there.
"I have heard some people are calling me an outsider in Nandigram. I am amazed. I was born and brought up in the neighbouring Birbhum district, and the person who is calling me an outsider was also not born here. Today I have become an outsider, and those coming from Gujarat have become insiders in Bengal," she said.
Adhikari has often called himself "bhoomiputra" (son of the soil) while seeking to get back at the TMC supremo who has been targeting the BJP with the "party of outsiders" barb.
Accusing Adhikari of trying to incite communal passions, Banerjee said, "Those who have sold their souls to the outsiders are insulting the Nandigram land acquisition movement by playing the communal card."
"Some people are talking about 70:30 ratio (of Hindu- Muslim population). Those doing that are insulting the sacred Nandigram movement which people of both communities fought together. People of Nandigram will make BJP 'April fool' on April 1 when polling is held," she asserted.
To send out a strong message to the BJP, Banerjee had earlier announced that she will not be playing it safe and will contest only from Nandigram, leaving her own seat, Bhawanipur in south Kolkata, to state power minister Sobhandeb Chatterjee.
Meanwhile, according to the BJP, Adhikari had insisted on fighting from Nandigram. "Adhikari himself had told the party's national leadership that he wanted to contest from Nandigram but left the decision on the national leadership," said Rajib Banerjee a former TMC minister who joined the BJP a month after Adhikari.
Adhikari will file his nomination papers on March 12. "After filing nomination papers, he will address a rally there," BJP leader Kanishka Panda said.
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.
On the other hand, Banerjee will contest 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.
(With PTI inputs)