Can forget everything but not Nandigram: Mamata
Nandigram: Trinamool Congress Chairperson Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday came down heavily on those calling her an "outsider" in Nandigram and said: "I may forget everyone's name but not Nandigram", emphasising her deep connections with the small hamlet that has now attracted massive attention because of the high-pitched electoral battle between Banerjee and her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari who joined the BJP recently. She will be filing her nomination papers on Wednesday.
Banerjee's counter came days after Adhikari said he is the "real bhumiputra" of Nandigram and that the former is an "outsider" there.
This was her first visit to the area after the list of candidates was announced. She was accompanied by Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Dola Sen, the party's Rajya Sabha MPs, Purnendu Bose, Firoza Bibi, Soham Chakraborty and Partha Pratim Das who are the party's nominees from Pashkura West, Chandipur and Khejuri respectively.
Without naming Adhikari even once, Banerjee said she had made up her mind to contest either from the Singur or Nandigram — the two cradles of the anti-land acquisition movement — that catapulted her to power in 2011.
Cautioning the BJP not to "play the communal card", she said: "Those who have sold their souls to outsiders are insulting the Nandigram land acquisition movement by playing the communal card. During the Nandigram movement, people from different religions and caste took part. 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. I was born in a Hindu Brahmin family. There was Abu Taher who was born in a Muslim family and Manoranjan Bag who was born in an SC family. It did not matter. We all fought against the atrocities of the CPI(M). People of Nandigram will make BJP 'April fool' on April 1 when polling is held."
She added: "I was born and brought up in the neighbouring Birbhum district, and the person who is calling me an outsider was born in Midnapore."
Chanting shlokas from the Chandi she prayed for the welfare of the people of Nandigram.
Banerjee alleged that the BJP had engaged some CPI(M) cadres who had unleashed a reign of terror in Nandigram in 2007, over 14 years ago. "BJP has brought them and they will try to scare you. Don't get scared. Remember I will be there with you always," she said, adding: "Don't allow them to enter the area."
Banerjee repeated the slogan which she used to chant in 2007 – 'Bhulte pari shobar naam, bhulbo nako Nandigram' (I can forget everyone's name but I will never forget Nandigram).
Stating that Nandigram was her eyes, she said she could have filed her candidature from Bhowanipore, her own constituency. "I had always wished to fight the election either from Singur or Nandigram as these were the two areas which had led the people's movement against the CPI(M)."
She said: "When I came here in January, there was no MLA from Nandigram because the person had joined the BJP, I could read the people's minds. Then I decided to contest from here." She added: "I have come to take your consent before filing my nomination tomorrow (Wednesday).
Banerjee said her home constituency was Bhowanipore where she would require much less effort to win, but still chose Nandigram as she could see people's love and enthusiasm.
"Going by that logic I shouldn't have been the chief minister of the state for 10 years. Today Bengal's daughter has become an outsider for some people.
Have you ever heard the expression outsider chief minister? If the locals tell me not to contest, I will go back," she said, drawing shouts of "Didi we want you" from the gathering.
Adhikari has often called himself 'bhumiputra' (son of the soil) while seeking to get back at the TMC supremo who has been targeting the BJP calling it a "party of outsiders".
Banerjee has rented a two-room flat at Riyapara for one year. She assured the people that she would come once every three months to Nandigram. She proposed to make it a role model and also set up a university here.
She said the Trinamool-led government had set up a super-specialty hospital here. Work is on for a Rs 700 crore project to supply drinking water in every household. A bridge will be constructed to connect Haldia with the area.
Banerjee went to Singhabahini temple at Sonachura and garlanded the martyrs' column. She announced that she would take part in two roadshows in Blocks I and II of Nandigram.