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Bengal politics heats up over Suvendu overtures to Left’s ‘Hindu voters’ ahead of Panchayat polls

Holding that ‘all in Left are not bad’, LoP Suvendu Adhikari has attributed his 2021 election win over Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram to support of a ‘vast section of Left's Hindu voters’

Adhikari also showered praise on the Left supporters, which has been perceived as his bid to reach out to them ahead of the upcoming high-stakes Panchayat polls. (PTI/File)
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Bengal politics heats up over Suvendu overtures to Left’s ‘Hindu voters’ ahead of Panchayat polls
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West Bengal Leader of Opposition (LoP) and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s claim that his win over Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Nandigram constituency in the 2021 Assembly election was ensured by a “vast section of the Left’s Hindu voters” has created a stir in state political circles.

Adhikari also showered praise on the Left supporters, which has been perceived as his bid to reach out to them ahead of the upcoming high-stakes Panchayat polls.

Addressing a BJP rally in East Midnapore on January 7, Adhikari said, “I won in Nandigram because a vast section of the Left, who are also Hindus, cast their votes for me. I admit this candidly.”

The LoP also told the gathering: “The CPI(M) had a far bigger organisation than the TMC earlier. The Left was far stronger than the TMC. They were in power for 34 years with 235 seats. Taking you with them, Lakshman Seth [ex-CPI(M) MP] and others tackled a lot of injustice and atrocities. All in the Left are not bad. A large number of Leftists have joined us.”

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The CPM rejected Adhkari’s claim while the TMC seized on it to charge that they have been hand in glove.

In the 2021 polls, Adhikari had trounced Mamata in Nandigram in East Midnapore district with a margin of 1,956 votes, even as the latter spearheaded her party to a landslide victory in the state for the third consecutive time. The CPI(M) had fielded its youth leader Minakshi Mukherjee in Nandigram, who got only 2.74% votes with Adhikari and Mamata garnering 48.49% and 47.64% votes respectively.

Recently, the TMC was defeated in several co-operative bank elections in East Midnapore, which was attributed to an “unofficial tie-up” between the local BJP and Left functionaries. Subsequently, the CPI(M) was forced to expel some of its party members in the district.

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A senior state BJP leader said, “In 2021 Assembly elections, we have seen that minority votes got mobilised in favour of TMC because they want to defeat BJP. But the Hindu votes did not get mobilised for BJP entirely because they were polarised between BJP, TMC and the Left. So, in this triangular division of Hindu votes, we lost to TMC as it also got the Muslim votes. Now, in Panchayat election, if we could manage to attract most of the Hindu votes the result could be different. So Adhikari is making this outreach to the Left’s Hindu voters.”

He also said, “RSS is also going to hold a programme on Netaji on his birth anniversary on January 23. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is coming to attend that event. This is also aimed at reaching out to that section of the larger majority community who may not be BJP supporters but regard Netaji as their icon.”

Adhikari’s claim came at a time when Mamata has been alleging a collusion between the saffron party and the Left. TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said, “Those who were CPI(M) mercenaries are now with BJP. Adhikari has finally admitted it,” charging that “Adhikari has done a great disservice to the people of Nandigram by joining hands with those who were behind the armed atrocities on peaceful anti-land grab protesters.”
The Left rejected Adhikari’s remarks. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “Adhikari was a senior TMC leader when he joined BJP. The Left parties do not need his certificate.”

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“Adhikari can’t ignore CPI(M) while opposing TMC. TMC also can’t stop talking about CPI(M) while opposing BJP. The fact is that TMC and BJP are hand in glove but they pretend to have a tiff between them in public. Both of them have vowed to ensure that the red flag won’t fly again in the state. We do not need anyone’s certificate,” Chakraborty said.

First published on: 11-01-2023 at 09:45 IST
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