CM in Siliguri for review meets

CM in Siliguri for review meets

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee reached Siliguri on Monday on a four-day official visit during which she would hold administrative review meetings of five north Bengal districts.

The visit is significant as Assembly elections will be held in less than seven months. A number of demands have gained ground both in the hills and the plains of north Bengal in the past few months and leaders of parties like the Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha — an ally of the Trinamul Congress — are harping on them.

According to sources, Mamata will stay at Uttarkanya, the branch secretariat of the state in Siliguri. She is expected to launch a number of new projects and make new announcements for the region.

On Tuesday, Mamata will hold meetings with officials of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. She will conduct another round of meeting to review the progress of development works and social welfare schemes in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Cooch Behar districts on Wednesday. The chief minister is scheduled to leave for Calcutta the following day, that is, on October 1.

Political observers have said it is important for Mamata to regain the support of voters in north Bengal, the region that has 54 Assembly constituencies.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamul had managed to secure lead only in 12 Assembly segments, while the BJP was ahead in 38 seats. The Congress had secured the highest number of votes in the remaining four Assembly segments.

“A considerable section of residents in the region wants the chief minister to make some announcements on their demands. Among the demands are land rights in the hills and tea gardens and permanency of jobs of ad hoc employees in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the Darjeeling municipality. In recent times, the hill parties have been raising these issues. It would be interesting to see how the chief minister manages to address these issues,” said Soumen Nag, a social researcher.

The observers also mentioned some other demands which had been raised by the Rajbanshi-dominated belts of north Bengal.

On one hand, the demand for creating an autonomous council for the Rajbanshi community has been raised, particularly after a similar set-up was announced in the neighbouring state of Assam. On the other hand, former KLO militants and linkmen are asking for government jobs.

Asok Bhattacharya, the CPM MLA of Siliguri, has been invited to the Darjeeling district review meeting as he is the chairperson of the board of administrators at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

This is the first time that Bhattacharya, who is also the immediate past mayor of the city, has been invited to such a review meeting. On Monday, he received a letter from the district magistrate’s office, said sources.

A CPM leader, when mentioned about the invitation, said polls to the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad are due this year.

“In the Siliguri subdivision, Trinamul has never secured a majority at the SMC or the SMP. The BJP managed to establish itself as a formidable force in the subdivision and in the district as a whole. This is why it seems Trinamul is taking a softer stand at the Left as there is a notion that if the Left’s vote share goes up, BJP’s vote share will decline and can help Trinamul tide over the situation,” he said.

Asked if he would attend the review meeting, Bhattacharya said: “I will discuss the matter with my colleagues at the civic body and take a decision.”

Mamata might lay the foundation stone of the medical college that would come up in Jalpaiguri, said sources.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee reached Siliguri on Monday on a four-day official visit during which she would hold administrative review meetings of f

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