And Nandigram goes to Suvendu Adhikari, the former aide of Mamata Banerjee after a keenly fought contest. Nandigram, the epicentre of West Bengal election action, witnessed a high-voltage “Khela” (game of power) where the chief minister put all her might against her opponent, who belonged to the first family of Nandigram. And she lost.

Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP in December last year, was the BJP’s calculated move to trap Mamata Banerjee. Nandigram is the stronghold of the Adhikari family and the BJP threw a challenge at the chief minister, she accepted and contested only from Nandigram, the place where she fought for farmers’ rights and against the land acquisition policy of the then Left government in 2011. This move set up her path to victory in 2011 when she stormed Bengal and threw out the Left. 

Suvendu Adhikari, who comes from a family that has been in politics for three generations, began to gain prominence in the state politics during the Nandigram movement in Purba Medinipur in 2007. Adhikari was believed to be the brain behind the movement that led to the end of the Left Front’s 34-year-rule in the West Bengal elections in 2011. And then the two stars were born out of this movement – Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari, who from then on became one of the closest aides of Banerjee, her Man Friday. But all that ended on December 19, when Suvendu Adhikari, after weeks of speculation, joined the BJP, deserting the “Didi”, who he alleged was running the party within the family.

Also read: What’s next for Mamata Banerjee now that she has lost Nandigram

Suvendhu Adhikari won Nandigram in 2016 on Trinamool ticket and it seems the constituency has been loyal to the party only because of his family. 

Soon after the Nandigram win, Suvendhu Adhikari tweeted his thanks with a vote count sheet

The Adhikaris, who are referred to as ‘Mir Jafars (traitors)’ by Mamata Banerjee now, have dominated the region by muscle and money power for nearly two decades. Suvendu’s father Sisir Adhikari, 79, is in his third term in Lok Sabha. A former Congressman, he also served as a minister in Manmohan Singh’s government. Suvendu Adhikari’s two brothers are in politics too — Dibyendu Adhikari is the MP from Tamluk and Soumyendu Adhikari is the chairman of the Contai municipality. The Adhikaris joined the Trinamool Congress after Mamata Banerjee formed the party in 1998.

Suvendu Adhikari, 50, was quick to step into his father’s shoes with probably much better organisational skills. He won his first assembly election in 2006 and then made a hattrick by winning the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat in 2009 defeating CPM strongman Lakshman Seth in Tamluk and in 2014, he was re-elected to Lok Sabha.

In 2016, when the BJP started expanding its footprint in the state, Mamata Banerjee was quick to get her ‘best bet’ back to the state. Adhikari quit Parliament and became a minister in the Mamata government.

Suvendu Adhikari, like a good soldier, followed the orders of the top boss of his party and started strengthening the organisational base, and his own clout in Medinipur and beyond. Rattled by the BJP’s victories in 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in 2019, Mamata Banerjee rushed to appoint Suvendu Adhikari the Trinamool Congress in-charge of assembly bypolls that were held a few months later. Adhikari dutifully delivered. The Trinamool Congress emerged victorious in all three bypolls including in Kharagpur Sadar, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh’s constituency.

Also read | Khela Hobe to Khela Shesh: How Mamata Banerjee thumped the BJP

Mamata Banerjee, who once appointed Suvendu Adhikari to gain the clout in Nandigram, was today defeated by the challenge that she herself created.