Siliguri, Sept. 1: Several Congress leaders and workers of Phansidewa block joined the Trinamul Congress today with just a year left for the polls to the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.
The exodus of Congress workers to Trinamul in north Bengal had started ahead of the panchayat elections in July. Last week, the Darjeeling district president of the Intuc, Alok Chakraborty, had joined Trinamul.
Those who joined Trinamul today included the sabhapati of Phansidewa panchayat samiti, Pranabesh Mondal, and the leader of opposition in the SMP, Ainul Haque. They received Trinamul flags from north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb at Phansidewa, 25km from here.
Neither the minister nor Trinamul leaders could give the exact number of people who joined the party.
The Phansidewa block has been a Congress bastion. The panchayat samiti, SMP seats in the block and the Phansidewa Assembly seat have been won by the Congress, whose main opponent was the Left Front.
However, now the contest will be between the Left and Trinamul.
“There will be bipolar politics at Phansidewa from now onwards, with Trinamul on one side and the Left on the other. Congress workers are frustrated and that is why they are joining Trinamul,” said Deb.
As the Congress continues to wilt in the region, its former face in the tea belt, Alok Chakraborty, today met over 50 Intuc leaders who offered to join the trade union of Trinamul. They are leaders of the Intuc-backed National Union of Plantation Workers from tea gardens and bought-leaf factories in the Terai.
“The leaders of Intuc-backed National Union of Plantation Workers in the Terai have agreed to join the Inttuc. This is a serious loss for the Intuc and Congress. We will invite more people to Trinamul and our trade union. It is up to the Congress leaders to retain their base. The effects of this effort will be visible during the Parliament and SMP polls scheduled for 2014,” said Chakraborty, who is now the Darjeeling district working president of Trinamul.
Jalpaiguri district Congress leaders could not be contacted.