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Trinamul launches mission for revival in hills

Rajen Mukhia, the Trinamul president in the hills
Darjeeling, Oct. 9: The Trinamul Congress is planning to revive its support base in the hills and rebuild the organisation that had almost crumbled following a series of switchovers during the recent statehood movement.
Sources said the Bengal ruling party was cashing in on the split between Bimal Gurung and Binay Tamang in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the recent backlash on the BJP team in the hills.
Rajen Mukhia, the Trinamul president in the hills, today visited Darjeeling and held a meeting with supporters in the party office that had been vandalised by suspected Gorkhaland supporters during the agitation.
"The party office has reopened after nearly four months and a number of our supporters visited the office today. I will visit Kurseong on Wednesday and Kalimpong on Friday," said Mukhia.

During the 104 days of the strike, Trinamul had been affected the most. Most of the supporters had left the party and a majority of them joined the GNLF and the Morcha.
Such was the spate of desertions that Trinamul's support base in many pockets of the hills was almost wiped out.
"Many party cadres who did not resign were forced to stay in Siliguri as they feared a backlash.... Now they, too, have returned home after normality has been restored," said a Trinamul source.
Apart from the Trinamul supporters, most of the hill leaders had also stationed themselves in the plains.
"The rift within the Morcha and the emergence of Binay Tamang - whom the government has acknowledged as the main leader in the hills - has largely helped Trinamul resume its political activity in the region. Even though the strong sentiment for Gorkhaland continues to persist, the situation appears to be much favourable for Trinamul now," said an insider.
Perhaps keeping in mind the statehood sentiment, Mukhia said the Trinamul leaders had never come in the way of the Gorkhaland movement.
"We stepped aside when the Gorkhaland agitation started in the hills. We did not disturb the movement and kept quiet because we are in favour of peace," Mukhia said.
"However, the 104 days of strike served no purpose. Students lost on their studies, the economy is in tatters and common people had to face hardships. The outcome of the agitation was zero," he added.
Trinamul sources said the party would refrain from organising any elaborate programme in the hills and instead, focus on the grassroots.
"We will work on the agenda of development. The hill population should understand that Trinamul has never made false promises to them like the BJP. Our party leader and chief minister Mamata Banerjee has unequivocally said that we are against the division of the state. But BJP leaders have spoken in different tunes. Even today, the BJP does not have a clear stand on the statehood issue," said a hill Trinamul leader.
With the functioning of the Trinamul office resuming in Darjeeling today, its frontal organisation also became active. The Trinamul-affiliated Darjeeling Himalayan Karmachari Sangatan, a union of GTA employees, today met Binay Tamang, the chairman of the board of administrators of the hill body, with a list of demands.
The regularisation of their jobs, increment in the salaries and release of salaries held up during the shutdown were some of the demands.

Source: The Telegraph

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