Updated: March 10, 2021 7:18:32 am
SHE identified herself as a “Hindu Brahmin” and chanted verses from the Chandi Path, said she need not be told about Bengal by “people coming from Rajasthan and Gujarat”, made tea at a roadside stall, cited the work done by her in her previous constituency Bhabanipur, and declared, “Bhulte pari nijer naam, bhulbo nako Nandigram (I can forget my name, but never forget Nandigram).”
With Nandigram set to be the most high-voltage contest of the coming Assembly election, between Mamata Banerjee and her former close aide Suvendu Adhikari, the Trinamool chief on Tuesday held her first meeting in the constituency after the declaration of the polls. Addressing booth-level workers, she said she would be filing her nomination from Nandigram on Wednesday.
Telling the BJP not to teach her to be a “good Hindu”, Mamata said, “Don’t play the Hindutva card with me. I am a Hindu Brahmin girl. I do Chandi Path before stepping out from my house… Those who are coming from Rajasthan and Gujarat, they are insiders and I became an outsider!”
Promising to develop a university in the name of “martyrs of Nandigram (those who died in the 2007 anti-land acquisition struggle)”, Mamata said, “Go and see my Bhabanipur (her old constituency). All development works are done there. I will make Nandigram a Model Nandigram. There will be no unemployment in any house. Nobody will be left uneducated.”
Without directly naming Adhikari once, Mamata said she had waged the land movement alone (the sitting Nandigram MLA, Adhikari was seen as the face of the Trinamool’s land agitation on the ground). She said she had rushed to Nandigram on hearing about the protesters being shot. “My gall bladder had been operated upon and doctors told me not to go out of the house. Still I came and the CPM goons stopped my car at Kolaghat and threw a petrol bomb at it… Then governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi told me to leave, ‘they plan to kill you’. Nobody was there with me that day,” Mamata said, adding that she would always fight for the right of farmers.
The Trinamool chief said there was no surprise in her decision to contest from the seat. “I love villages, I have nostalgia for them… I took a decision to fight from either Singur or Nandigram days ago, because these two places are holy places of the movement for me… I have taken a house on rent in Nandigram. I will come here every three months. After some time I will make a hut to stay here.”
With Adhikari calling himself a “bhoomi putra (native)” as opposed to her, Mamata said, “I am amazed. I was born and brought up in the neighbouring Birbhum district, and the person calling me an outsider was not born here either.”
She told the people not to be taken in by those who keep trying to divide Hindus and Muslims. “Some people will try to split Nandigram as 70-30. You tell them that we are a hundred,” Mamata said. Around 70% of Nandigram’s population is Hindu and 30% Muslim.
“I do not put money into people’s pockets to get votes… On 1st of April, make an April fool of them,” Mamata said. Nandigram votes on April 1.
After the rally, Mamata went to pay homage to those who died in the Nandigram agitation and visited temples and a mazaar. At one of the various places her convoy halted to meet people, Mamata made tea.
She stayed for the night at the house of Trinamool worker Bishnupada Bhuiyan in Reyapara, in a last-minute decision. Asked about the fact that the Trinamool had arranged for her to stay in the house of S K Farooq Ahmed at Nandigram Battala, she said, “There is nothing to this… I have taken two rooms on rent in each house. My party president (West Bengal chief Subrata Bakshi) will stay there.”
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