The rally by the Trinamul Congress in Kurseong on Sunday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Kurseong, Oct. 6: The Trinamul Congress today claimed that people of the Darjeeling hills were with the party as the Mamata Banerjee government was focusing on development and peace in the region.
Mukul Roy, the general secretary of Trinamul, today addressed the first meeting of the party in Kurseong where 800 contractual employees of the GTA Sabha joined Mamata’s party. Around 1,500 people attended the meeting.
Those who joined Trinamul were with the Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. A handful of other hill residents not associated with the Morcha also became Trinamul members.
Trinamul also announced a public meeting in Darjeeling on October 23, the day the Centre may hold a tripartite meeting with representatives of the state government and the Morcha.
The Trinamul general secretary told the gathering that the state government was bent on ensuring the development in the hills.
“Since 1986, no political leader from Bengal or outside the state has thought of the hills seriously and the people who live there, as Mamata Banerjee has. Unlike the representatives of the earlier governments in the state or at the Centre, our chief minister visited the hills not once or twice, but at least 20 times in the past two-and-a-half years,” Roy said.
“Today’s gathering proves that a large number of people in the hills are with Trinamul and the state government as we are focussing on maintaining peace and bringing about comprehensive development in the region. The state government is consistently working for the execution of important projects associated with water, roads and civic services across the hills. This will go on,” he told the crowd at the Kurseong Motor Stand.
A procession was also taken out from the local tourist lodge to the venue of the meeting.
Binny Sharma, the spokesperson for Darjeeling hill Trinamul, said: “Today’s meeting was a success as hundreds of hill residents joined our party. Such political activities of Trinamul will continue in the hills and we have decided to hold a public meeting in Darjeeling on October 23 and it will be addressed by Mukul Roy and north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb.”
The contractual workers of the GTA said they had joined Trinamul as the Morcha had failed to keep its word.
“When the DGHC was there, we had been promised by the GNLF that we would be made permanent. Later, the Morcha made the same promise. Nothing has happened although two years have passed since the Morcha formed the autonomous hill body. We are all disappointed and around 800 employees affiliated to the Karmachari Sangathan joined Trinamul today,” said Dilip Singh, who quit as the general secretary of the Karmachari Sangathan.
He said the GTA had 6,421 contractual employees.
According to Singh, minister Gautam Deb has offered to take up the matter with the chief minister.
Observers said Trinamul was seeking to cash in on the pent-up anger of the common people against the Morcha.
“It is a fact that the 44-day-strike of the Morcha has acted against it, may be to a less extent. Those who had to face hardships to obtain food and earn a livelihood during the strike are disappointed with the Morcha and are turning to Trinamul. Leaders of Trinamul have sensed an opportunity for the party’s growth in the simmering resentment of the people and are using it to cement the outfit’s cadre base in the hills,” said an observer.
Although Roy did not criticise the Morcha, others who spoke at the meeting today were not so restrained.
“Prominent leaders in the hills are playing with our future. They are simply siphoning off money from the funds allotted for the development of the common people without making any attempt to mitigate the problems of the public,” said Rajen Mukhia, the hill Trinamul convenor.
“Leaders who didn’t have the wherewithal to buy a cycle or a two-wheeler are travelling in luxurious cars now. We want to know from where they have got this money while common people continue to live amidst miserable conditions.”