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TMC dilemma over Siliguri district demand

CM Mamata at Bagdogra airport
Trinamul leaders here are unable to support or reject the demand for new Siliguri district as the party's state leadership has not taken any stand on the issue.
Yesterday, the Birhattar Siliguri Nagarik Mancha had said Siliguri should be made a separate district by merging the entire Siliguri subdivision and the adjoining areas in Jalpaiguri district.
Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president and the MLA of Matigara-Naxalbari, also raised the same demand today.
"Siliguri should be declared as a separate district. Considering its importance in terms of geographical location and that it is the most important town in north Bengal and one of the principal cities in east and northeast India, it deserves to be a district headquarter," said Malakar.
With the demand gaining ground, particularly after the formation of Kalimpong district, the Trinamul leaders here are in a fix.
"We really don't know what to say on the issue as the state leadership hasn't taken a stand. We cannot simply ignore that for administrative and judicial works, we need to travel to Darjeeling that is 80km away. There are people who live in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation area but under Jalpaiguri district and have to travel around 45km to get their jobs done," said a senior Trinamul leader. "Even then, we cannot make any comment in public against or in favour of the demand and need to simply dodge the question."
CPM leader and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya said the party found nothing "unjustified" in the demand. The CPM, however, is yet to make its stand clear.
Minister Gautam Deb is also in a tricky situation. He is the MLA of Dabgram-Fulbari, the Assembly constituency that comprises 14 wards of the SMC which are in Jalpaiguri district and four panchayats which are also in the neighbouring district but located close to the SMC wards.(TT)

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