Assembly Elections 2021 Live Updates: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to hold a mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground in West Bengal on Sunday. This will be the first election rally by the Prime Minister in the state after the poll notification for the Assembly elections was issued. Actors Akshay Kumar and Mithun Chakraborty might share the stage with him at today’s rally, BJP sources said. PM Modi is scheduled to hold over 20 rallies during Bengal’s 8 phase election schedule.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is on a day-long political tour in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, campaigning door-to-door and attending several programmes in the two states.
The BJP and Congress released their first list of candidates, 57 and 13 respectively, on Saturday for West Bengal polls. The saffron party announced that Suvendu Adhikari, who defected from the Trinamool Congress, will be pitted against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram.
In Assam, Congress was the latest to release its list of 40 candidates for the upcoming polls. BJP released a list of 70 candidates on Friday with its allies AGP and UPPL given 26 and eight seats, respectively. Activist Akhil Gogoi, who is in jail since December 2019 under the UAPA, will contest from his newly-floated political party Raijor Dal.
In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK allotted 20 seats to its ally BJP after rounds of negotiations, while its talks with the DMDK remained inconclusive. The DMK on the other hand, allotted 6 seats to MDMK through a deal with Congress and CPI(M). This is the first time that MDMK will be in alliance with DMK since 1949.
Former Trinamool Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dinesh Trivedi joined the BJP on Saturday, with Assembly elections in West Bengal round the corner. The move comes close to a month after Trivedi who was with Trinamool since its inception in 1998, dramatically resigned from his Rajya Sabha membership in Parliament on February 12, claiming that he was “feeling suffocated”.
Trivedi — a former Lok Sabha MP as well as a Union minister —joins a long list of Trinamool leaders that have switched sides to the BJP in the run-up to the Assembly polls.
After joining the BJP in the presence of party national president J P Nadda in New Delhi, Trivedi said this was the “golden moment he had been waiting for.” Attacking the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal, Trivedi said, “Bengal has violence, corruption and terror. It is a land of culture, a land that is attached with pride and that we see as ‘Sonar Bangla’. The people of Bengal are now looking forward to real change,” Trivedi said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former state minister-turned-BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. (File Photo)
Over the years, West Bengal and the country have learned not to underestimate Mamata Banerjee. A fiery leader in disarming sari and chappals, she took lathis and more to do the impossible and topple the Left Front in the state. A decade hence, Mamata finds herself in the same spot, and the country is again watching. Does the two-time Chief Minister still have the fight in her to stop another opponent, far mightier, over the course of an election spread out longer than a month, aiming for what no longer seems impossible?
If the Trinamool supremo retains power, she would join the handful of political leaders in the country to have defeated the Narendra Modi-led BJP, cementing her place as one of the tallest Opposition leaders at a time that the Congress is doddering. If the BJP wins, West Bengal would join the list of states the party sees as crucial to its ideological framework to go its way.
At a time when the Congress is locked in a bitter tussle with the DMK over seat-sharing in Tamil Nadu, there is tension in the party in Assam over allocation of seats to partner AIUDF.
There were tense scenes and slogan-shouting by a section of the party workers at the Congress office, in the presence of party chief Ripun Bora and Mahila Congress national president Sushmita Dev, in Guwahati on Saturday. Sources said Dev is upset over the allocation of some seats to the AIUDF in her stronghold of Barak Valley.
Of the 15 Assembly seats in Barak Valley, comprising the Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts, the Congress had won three last time while the AIUDF had won four. All the three seats in Hailakandi district were won by AIUDF and the party is claiming these as part of the seat-sharing deal.