– Adivasi Vikas Parishad says it will support Mamata a day after Gurung goes with BJP
Mamata Banerjee is felicitated in Malbazar, Jalpaiguri, on February 12 by Somji Bhai Damor, the all-India president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad. On stage is Birsa Tirkey (extreme right), the state president of the Parishad
Siliguri, March 11: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today announced its support for Trinamul in the Lok Sabha elections.
The announcement, which could boost Trinamul’s chances in the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Lok Sabha seats, has come a day after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announced it would support BJP candidates in Darjeeling, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri.
The way the contest is set now, the Morcha, which wants statehood, and the BJP, known to favour creation of smaller states, are pitted against Trinamul, which is against dividing Bengal and the Parishad, which shares the state’s ruling party’s stand on the matter.
Of the tea garden unions in the Dooars and Terai, the Parishad-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (PTWU) is the strongest. It has worker unions in almost every garden in the Dooars and Terai. Most of the workers in the tea gardens are tribals, except in few pockets where Gorkhas are larger in number.
The Parishad’s sign of support — this is the first time the outfit has officially said it would support a particular party — has come about a month after the tribal organisation felicitated chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Jalpaiguri for the development work done by the government for them.
Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad, said from Calcutta over phone today: “The initiative taken by Mamata Banerjee for the tribals is unprecedented in this state. We are overwhelmed by her sincerity to help the backward tribal population by initiating socio-economic development. So we have decided to issue a directive to the tribal community to vote for Trinamul candidates.”
Tirkey added: “Tribals will vote Trinamul across Bengal and also in other states where Trinamul will field candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.”
The sitting MP of Jalpaiguri, which is a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes, is the CPM’s Mahendra Roy. Alipurduar, a Scheduled Tribe seat, is held by the RSP’s Manohar Tirkey. Both have got tickets for the same seats this time.
Trinamul has fielded a new face in Jalpaiguri — Rabindra Bharati University assistant registrar Bijoy Krishna Burman. In Alipurduar, the candidate is Dasarath Tirkey, who switched from the RSP to Trinamul after the recent Rajya Sabha elections.
Trinamul is expected to benefit the most in Alipurduar where the tribals make up around 60 per cent of the voters.
Their percentage is around 15 per cent each in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, aware that his party is unlikely to get any Gorkha votes after the Morcha leadership’s directive to plains supporters to vote for the BJP, said he was “happy” with the Parishad’s announcement.
He said the Trinamul government had “tried to do our best to bring development to the tribal belt in north Bengal”.
As examples he cited revision of tea workers’ wages, the opening of Hindi-medium colleges and ration shops in tea gardens.
It is the Left, which is already under siege from Trinamul across the state, which could suffer the hardest.
“Since 2009, Trinamul has made inroads into the tea gardens and set up units of the INTTUC there,” said a CPM leader. “The Parishad-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union is the strongest union in the tea gardens here.”
He said that in such a scenario a signal by the Parishad to garden workers to support the Trinamul would have a “significant bearing” on the voting pattern here in the coming elections.
“We used to depend a lot on the tribal support to win elections here,” the CPM leader said.
Salil Acharya, a district secretariat member of the Jalpaiguri unit of the CPM told The Telegraph: “We are against identity politics. Whether it is the Morcha or the Parishad, they are just trying to create a rift between the different communities living here. We are opposed to such vote-bank politics. The people of this region will give a fitting reply to such outfits.”
Mamata set to campaign in Dooars
Siliguri, 11 March: Trinamul supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to start campaigning from Birpara in Jalpaiguri and its adjoining area, Garubathan.
Trinamul party sources today said the party chief is scheduled to address a political rally at Birpara for the Alipurduar Lok Sabha seat. They, however, said the date is yet to be finalised.
According to them, the party has also selected Garubathan so that she can cover both the Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling LS constituencies. The Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Congress leadership today chalked out strategies for campaigning in Jalpaiguri town in the presence of party leaders, including the party’s state president Subrata Bakshi and state minister Gautam Deb. According to the district Trinamul Congress president, Chandan Bhowmik, party leaders from 1826 booths under the Jalpaiguri segment were present in the indoor meeting, where party candidate Bijoy Chandra Barman was introduced. Booth leaders were asked to begin group meetings at the grassroots level to highlight the state government’s development work and plans for the people. According to Mr Bhowmik, the party will hold such meetings in the Assembly segment individually.
The district party leadership has also decided to start Assembly-wise training for booth-level leaders, beginning from the Maynaguri Assembly segment.
For the Maynaguri Assembly segment by-polls, Trinamul has fielded Ananta Deb Adhikari, who was elected from there on an RSP ticket earlier.
RSP is set to announce the name of its candidates for the two Assembly segments of Maynaguri and Kumargram in Jalpaiguri. The Jalpaiguri district RSP secretary, Sunil Banik, who was on his way to Kolkata this evening, said he would propose two names to the state leadership. The state RSP leadership is set to announce the names tomorrow.
Splinter ABAVP leaders to support GJMM-backed candidates
Siliguri, 11 March: Although the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) state leadership has decided to support Trinamul Congress candidates across the state, including the Terai-Dooars, splinter ABAVP leaders under the banner of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) are set to support the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha-backed candidates.
The JMM central leadership has asked its regional unit of north Bengal to follow the guidelines issued by GJMM president Bimal Gurung, particularly for the Alipurduar Lok Sabha seat. The JMM central leadership adopted such a resolution on 7 March, party sources said today.
The JMM’s north Bengal unit has called an ‘urgent’ meeting on 13 March to discuss the matter with other party leaders.
“We, the ABAVP leaders and members, will extend support to Mamata Banerjee’s party and her candidates across the state. We had announced our views and decision to support her at Malbazar in Jalpaiguri on 12 February,” ABAVP state president Birsa Tirkey said. Notably, Miss Banerjee was felicitated by the ABAVP at Malbazar on the same day.
“We will orgnise a three-day central rally at Peerdoba under the Bishnupur police station in Bankura district from 4 April. We have invited Trinamul chief Miss Banerjee to attend the progamme. We have decided to make our stand clear on the Lok Sabha polls–that we will support Trinamul,” he said.
“ABAVP members will extend support to Mamata Banerjee’s candidate in the Terai and the Dooars, since the BJP has made an understanding with the GJMM,” Mr Tirkey added.
Interestingly, JMM north Bengal regional unit secretary, Raju Bara, said the JMM central leadership in Ranchi has asked them to leave the matter with GJMM chief Mr Gurung and support him, particularly in the Alipurduar LS seat, reserved for a Scheduled Tribe candidate.
“We will hold a meeting on 13 March to inform other party leaders about the matter,” he said.
Though Mr Tirkey was optimistic about the Trinamul candidate’s prospects, following support from the Lepcha, Tamang, Bhutia and Sherpa communities, Mr Bara said they were minimal in number in the plains in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts.
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