Bengal CPM challenges Mamata to hold Hill panchayat elections

Mishra addresses the public meeting in Siliguri
Siliguri: Bengal CPM secretary Surjyakanta Mishra on Sunday tossed a challenge before chief minister Mamata Banerjee and said she should take steps so that panchayat elections were conducted in the hills to prove her point that all was well in Darjeeling.
Mishra, who was present at a public meeting organised at Baghajatin Park here to mark the opening of the two-day Darjeeling district conference of the CPM, said: "If she (chief minister) claims that normalcy has been restored in the hills, she must show the courage to hold panchayat elections there. She wanted to grab power at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad and failed. I challenge her now to prove her point by ensuring a free and fair rural poll in hills."

In the hills, there have been no panchayat samitis since 2005.
The demand raised by Mishra is a tactical move to mount pressure on Trinamul and the Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that is known to be close to Mamata.
"Trinamul has turned politically inactive in the hills for the past six months, while the Tamang lobby has slowly started gaining support. At this point, it is indeed a tough task for the state to make arrangements for rural polls as there is always a risk of opposition from a section of the hill population. Also, it is unlikely that the Tamang faction will be ready to face the polls now as they still need to make their support base stronger," said an observer.
In his speech, the CPM leader also reiterated the need for tripartite talks to improve situation in the hills. The chief minister is acting biased with the hill leaders, Mishra alleged.
"As per the GTA accord, tripartite meetings should be held. Such meetings can help in getting better solutions. We are also perturbed over the biasness of the chief minister. People from hills who have surrendered to her are being spared while those who didn't do it, are being implicated in police cases. This attitude can never bring a solution for the hills," said the state CPM secretary.

The Telegraph

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