Mamata Banerjee announced today that she would contest the Bengal election from Nandigram and vacate her own seat of Bhowanipore in Kolkata.
This sets up Nandigram as the most important battleground in the high-stakes election, with the Chief Minister taking the fight straight to the BJP and, symbolically, those who quit her party and switched to the BJP. Nandigram is the stronghold of Suvendu Adhikari, one of the top Trinamool Congress leaders to defect the BJP.
The Chief Minister announced that her Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay would contest from Bhowanipore.
This settles speculation on whether Ms Banerjee would contest from two seats.
In Nandigram, she is likely to face Suvendu Adhikari as her BJP rival; he was once was her right hand man and virtually the architect of the Trinamool Congress's 2011 campaign focused on the fight for farmers' land being taken over for industrial purposes.
Last evening, Suvendu Adhikari told the BJP leadership that he was confident of defeating Mamata Banerjee by "at least 50,000 votes" in Nandigram. But a final decision on fielding him against the top Trinamool face will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to sources.
In January, she had declared that she would contest from Nandigram. "I will contest from Nandigram. Nandigram is my lucky place," she had said, urging voters of her Bhowanipore constituency to understand her decision.Advertisement
"Nandigram is my big sister, Bhawanipore is my younger sister...I will fight from both if possible. In case I am unable to contest from Bhawanipore, someone else would contest," she had later added.
She announced 291 candidates; three hill constituencies of Darjeeling, Kurswon and Kalimpong have been left for "friendly parties".Advertisement
No candidate above 80 will contest from the Trinamool Congress, the Chief Minister announced.
The Trinamool has fielded 50 women, 42 Muslim candidates, 79 scheduled caste candidates and 17 Scheduled Tribe candidates.