Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday filed her nomination papers to contest from the Nandigram constituency in the upcoming Assembly polls.
Exuding confidence of emerging victorious, Banerjee said that she never returned empty-handed from Nandigram.
The TMC chief filed her papers at Nandigram’s Haldia sub-divisional office after taking part in a 2-km-long roadshow. She was accompanied by part president Subrata Bakshi.
The chief minister is up against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, who until recently was with the TMC and served as a minister in the state cabinet.
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.
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.
"I am confident about my victory from the Nandigram Assembly seat. I could have easily contested from Bhawanipur seat (Mamata’s current seat)…When I had visited Nandigram in January, there was no MLA from here as the sitting MLA had resigned. I looked at the faces of the common people and decided to contest from here," she said after filing her paper.
Deputy chairman of East Midnapore zilla parishad Sheikh Sufiyan has been appointed as Banerjee's election agent.
"I have never returned empty-handed from here. Nandigram is not just a name, it is the name of a movement. Bhulte pari sobar naam, bhulbo nako Nandigram (I can forget everyone's name, but can never forget Nandigram). That's the significance of this place for me," the TMC supremo said.
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, who too filed his nomination paper for the seat on Wednesday, called Banerjee an "outsider" to Nandigram while calling himself a "bhoomiputra" (son of the soil).
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.
Both the leaders were prominent figures in the anti-farm land acquisition movement in Nandigram in 2007 that had catapulted Banerjee to power in West Bengal in 2011.
The little-known rural area, which had witnessed one of the bloodiest movements against the government's acquisition of cultivable land for industrialisation, had then changed the political landscape of the West Bengal.
(With PTI inputs)