A father-son duo, who had spearheaded Trinamool Congress' agitation against the Communist Party of India-Marxist's land acquisition policy in Nandigram which fetched rich electoral dividends for the party, have become the trump cards for Mamata Banerjee in the coming Lok Sabha election.
Mamata put up Sisir Adhikary and his son Suvendu Adhikary as party candidates in important Contai and Tamluk constituencies in East Midnapore district keeping in mind her party's victory in the recently-held panchayat elecion and Assembly by-election there.
Aiming to turn the tables on the CPI-M on the back of Nandigram, Mamata predictably kicked off her election campaign from the place and promptly declared that Nandigram would be her main poll plank. Aware that the rural support which has sustained the Left in power for more than three decades is crumbling, Mamata made no bones about her intention to exploit Nandigram to the hilt when she carried earth from the place in a pot to be taken across Bengal.
''No one will forget Nandigram and we will spread the Nandigram message across the length and breadh of the state,'' the duo said. Two years ago they were instrumental in organising the first protest in Nandigram when the state government planned to acquire land for a chemical hub.
Suvendu's father Sisir Adhikary, 72, claimed theirs was a family with a political tradition. ''Our house in East Midnapore was torched three times during the pre-Independence period because we were opposing the British Raj. Today my son and I are carrying on the legacy from a different perspective though.Suvendu deserves more credit than me. He stayed in Nandigram day in and day out organising the poor farmers, protesting against the CPI-M-led government's forcible land acquistion,'' he said.
Sevendu, 35, alleged that despite the Calcutta High Court order, the West Bengal government was yet to give compensation to hundreds of victims of Nandigram. He said that the state government was supposed to spend Rs one crore on rebuilding damaged and torched houses, but alleged the money was siphoned off by local CPI-M leaders. The father-son duo is not new to politics though. Sisir has been the chairman of Contai municipality for 31 years and became an MLA from Contai south in 1982. Later he was elected from the Egra Assembly seat.
Suvendu, on the other hand, was involved in student and youth politics in the district while studying in Contai College and became an MLA from south Contai in the last Assembly elections.
In the coming Lok Sabha polls, Suvendu is taking on CPI-M strong man from the district Laxman Seth whereas Sisir is pitted against Prasanta Pradhan of CPI-M--four time MLA since 1971 and sitting MP from Contai constituency.
Suvendu, who has emerged as an icon to his party workers in the district and residents, has of late outshone his father in organising protests. ''I am proud of my son. I do not tell him what to do in politics any more. He is capable enough,'' said Sisir Adhikary.
The duo said after playing an instrumental role in driving off the chemical hub from Nandigram, they are determined not to allow it to come up anywhere in the district. ''We will not allow a chemical hub to be set up in Nandigram or elsewhere in the district. We will replace it with the hub of humanity. The CPI-M is luring people with false promise of jobs in the elections. We will combat its strategy,'' Suvendu said.