The insider-outsider debate – the hottest one ahead of the coming assembly elections in Bengal, surfaced in Nandigram today as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee repeatedly underscored her “daughter of the soil” credentials at the spot that played key role in her ascent to power. At Nandigram, Ms Banerjee is facing her erstwhile confidante Suvendu Adhikari, who is now representing the BJP.
Over the last weeks, Mr Adhikari — who won Nandigram in 2011 on Ms Banerjee’s behalf — has repeatedly challenged the Chief Minister. His followers have adopted the ruling Trinamool Congress’s “outsider” argument about the BJP against the Chief Minister in Nandigram, an area 130 km from Kolkata.
Mr Adhikari has dubbed himself “bhoomiputra” (son of the soil) to get back at the Trinamool chief who has been targeting the BJP with the “party of outsiders” barb.
Ms Banerjee today reminded the people how she and her party stood by them when the then CPM government had given a go-ahead to a chemical building unit.
“I have heard some people are calling me an outsider in Nandigram. I am amazed. I was born and brought up in the neighbouring Birbhum district, and the person who is calling me an outsider was also not born here. Today I have become an outsider, and those coming from Gujarat have become insiders in Bengal,” Ms Banerjee said.
“When the movement was on in Nandigram and there was Kali Puja at home, I did not go home. I stayed here to help the people,” the Chief Minister said.
“On 14 March 2007, when the firing took place, I was here… trying to enter Nandigram… I did not go away. The Governor called me. He said, ‘Leave the spot. They will throw petrol bombs at you. They will try to kill you’. The next day Anisur brought me here on his motorbike. I walked and reached Tamluk hospital. The CPM never imagined that I could do this,” she said.