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Cong face in tea belt joins Trinamul wing

Alok Chakraborty

Siliguri, Aug. 25: The Darjeeling district president of the Intuc, Alok Chakraborty, today joined the trade union of Trinamul, dealing a major blow to the Congress in the tea belts in the Terai and North Dinajpur, where he is popular among workers.

After joining the Inttuc in Calcutta in the presence of Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy, Chakraborty said the Congress and the CPM were hand-in-glove in many areas nowadays.

“I have taken the decision as these days, the Congress and the CPM are working together. The Congress is backing the demonstrators who are into a movement for a separate state in the hills. Trinamul is the only party which has taken a strict stand on the issue,” he said over the phone from Calcutta.

Observers said Chakraborty’s induction would help Trinamul make inroads into the rural pockets of Siliguri subdivision, which has around 70 tea estates with over two lakh people.

“By bringing Chakraborty to the party, Trinamul can now spread its trade union base in the tea gardens of the Terai. So far, the Citu and Intuc were the principal trade unions in these gardens, with the labour wings of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad wielding considerable clout in a few plantations. Chakraborty has followers in the tea gardens of North Dinajpur also. Now that the principal Intuc leader in the tea belt has joined Trinamul, the party can cement its support base and open the Inttuc-backed Trinamul Plantation Workers’ Union in more gardens,” said an observer.

The observer said Chakraborty’s departure would bleed the Congress, especially because hardly a year was left for the polls to the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.

Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president, said Chakraborty’s decision to join the Inttuc wouldn’t weaken the Congress. “Chakraborty might join Trinamul or any other party. But that does not mean that Intuc or the Congress would suffer in the tea belt. We have several able leaders in the Terai who can carry on with trade union activities.”