Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee moved the Calcutta high court challenging her narrow loss in the Nandigram seat to her protégé-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari. This was Banerjee’s first electoral loss in 32 years. According to Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders aware of the development, Banerjee’s petition alleged that the votes were not counted properly.
Adhikari, who switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party last year, won the seat by 1,956 votes and went on to become the Leader of Opposition in the Bengal assembly.
The development came on a day West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar met Union home minister Amit Shah, President Ram Nath Kovind and Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury in Delhi. Dhankhar and Shah met for an hour, days after the governor clashed with Banerjee over post-poll violence in Bengal.
The CM said allegations of post-poll clashes were a political gimmick and added that she had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi three times to recall the governor. Controversy about the Nandigram election had broken out on the day it went to the polls, April 1. On the day of voting, Banerjee, who was wheelchair bound at the time because of an ankle injury, levelled charges of booth rigging and refused to leave a polling station for two hours.
When the election results were declared on May 2, the Trinamool Congress sought a recount when the results were announced but the Election Commission didn’t allow it. Days later, Mamata claimed that the returning officer who turned down the request for a recount was threatened, a charge the BJP promptly dismissed, insisting that the chief minister wasn’t able to “accept the reality”.
The defeat in Nandigram was a blow to Mamata, who led her party to a landslide victory in West Bengal assembly elections with 213 of the 292 seats - her party’s third straight win. Mamata, who represented Bhawanipore in the last assembly, announced her decision to contest from Nandigram a month before the eight phase elections began.
The high-profile seat, where a land agitation in 2007 propelled TMC to power in the state, elected Adhikari in 2016 when he was with the TMC. TMC Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said there was “no way she (Mamata) could lose” from Nandigram. Adhikari did not comment on the development.