Mamata Banerjee challenges Suvendu Adhikari's Nandigram win, hearing next week
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court, challenging her election defeat in Nandigram to the rival BJP's Suvendu Adhikari. The court today deferred the hearing in the matter to Thursday, June 24, NDTV reported. Banerjee, a third-time CM, suffered her first electoral loss in three decades, to Adhikari, who was once her close aide.
"Let the matter be listed next Thursday. In the meantime, the Registrar shall file a report before this court as to whether the petition has been filed in conformity with the Representation of People Act," the court said today, according to Bar & Bench.
The plea will be heard by a single-judge bench of Justice Kausik Chanda. In her petition, Banerjee has said that Adhikari's election should be declared invalid for his alleged involvement in corrupt practices, including bribery, during the poll campaign. "Suvendu Adhikari has indulged in several corrupt practices that have enhanced his winning chances and materially altered Ms...Banerjee's chances of success in the election (sic)."
Votes for this year's West Bengal Assembly elections were counted on May 2. Adhikari, who had defected from Banerjee's party and joined the BJP just last year, defeated her by a narrow margin of 1,956 votes. Banerjee had raised allegations of incorrect counting and booth capture and demanded a recount, a request that was rejected by the Election Commission at that time.
Banerjee had then said she would challenge Adhikari's victory in court. "We will definitely move court. Our party workers are also staging a protest," she had said. The CM, through her campaign, had also alleged the Election Commission was favoring the BJP.
Meanwhile, leaders of the BJP have attacked Banerjee over her demands for a recount. "How do you lose an election twice? First, at the hustings and then, like a sore loser, challenging people's verdict in the court. It would be fascinating to see Mamata Banerjee suffer the humiliation of Nandigram defeat twice over," Amit Malviya of the saffron party tweeted yesterday.
Elections in West Bengal were held over record eight phases during March-April. In spite of Banerjee's individual loss, her party, the Trinamool Congress, won a thumping majority by bagging 213 of the 292 total seats. The BJP emerged as the second-largest party with 77 seats.