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Trinamul seals electoral pact with Barla

Siliguri, March 13: Trinamul Congress leader Mukul Roy today said his party would align with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha to contest the panchayat elections in the Dooars and Terai, although the tribal outfit led by John Barla would also share seats with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the region.

The JMM had said earlier that it would ally with the Morcha in the tea gardens of the plains and Trinamul in the rest of the region.

The announcement of the alliance between the JMM and Trinamul was announced by Roy and Barla separately after the two met at Malbazar today.

“We are forging an alliance with Trinamul. We will field candidates in tea gardens where Trinamul lacks base and will support Trinamul candidates in other parts of the Terai and Dooars,” Barla said after the meeting.

Asked about the JMM’s tie-up with the Morcha, Barla said: “It is true that we have an alliance with the Morcha but Trinamul leaders have said during the discussion that they have no reservations about it. In the next few days, we will discuss and sort out the number of seats to be contested by each party (in all three tiers of panchayat).”

Minister Gautam Deb, and Padam Lama who had quit the Morcha and joined Trinamul were also present at the 40-minute long meeting.

Trinamul and the JMM had started the alliance talks in November when Deb met Barla at Mongpong.

Later, the matter was again discussed when Barla called on chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Calcutta last month.

Mukul Roy said Trinamul was not bothered about the JMM’s tie-up with the Morcha.

“The JMM led by John Barla is a regional political organisation. We are not concerned over with whom they have forged an alliance. We need them in places where we lack organisational strength. They mooted a proposal for an alliance and we have approved it. Minister Gautam Deb will hold further talks with JMM leaders and in the next two-three days, we hope that there will be an understanding on the number of seats to be shared by each party in the panchayat election,” said Roy.

Observers said the alliance with Barla betrayed Trinamul’s desperation to win tribal votes in the Dooars and Terai.

“Trinamul has agreed to the alliance despite the fact that the JMM has tied up with the Morcha and is holding meetings with the hill party on a regular basis. This indicates Trinamul’s desperation to make inroads into the tribal belt. Trinamul minister Deb’s meeting with the leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad yesterday didn’t yield any result. The Parishad leaders were supposed to meet Mukul Roy today, but for whatever reasons, it didn’t happen. Trinamul didn’t wait and went ahead to forge an alliance with Barla,” said an observer.