Mamata Banerjee with Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri (hands folded) and GTA acting chief executive Ramesh Allay (wearing a Nepali topi and standing behind the chief minister) after a meeting at Richmond Hill, the state government guesthouse in Darjeeling, on Friday. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Siliguri, Oct. 25: The beleaguered CPM is planning to tiptoe back into the hills with a rally next month at a time Mamata Banerjee has pushed the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha to the back foot and carved out a political space for Trinamul in Darjeeling.
CPM state secretary Biman Bose said today after a two-day district secretariat meeting in Siliguri: “We will organise the rally as part of Jyoti Basu’s birth centenary celebrations…. In view of the recent political scenario in the hills, it’s true that we have lost some foothold and have become weak. But we still exist there.”
Darjeeling has become a focus area for the principal Opposition party in the state as Mamata’s strategy of combating the Morcha has started paying dividends.
Today, the chief minister earned another brownie point by getting the Morcha to give an assurance that it would not call strikes.
Bose, who had earlier mocked Mamata for saying “the hills are smiling”, had no option but to give her credit for restarting a dialogue with the Morcha, which had organised a series of indefinite shutdowns in July-August to demand statehood.
“We wanted the Morcha to come to the talks table with the government. We welcome the Morcha’s move to listen to the chief minister and the government’s decision to go soft,” Bose said.
The CPM leader added normality in the hills would result in regular earnings for people connected with tourism.
CPM sources said the party leadership had realised that it would have to put its house in order to stop Trinamul’s triumph in the hills.
“If we fail to prove that we still have some clout in the hills, it will affect us politically…. Mamata will claim that she has not only calmed the hills but has also made Trinamul a major political force there,” a CPM leader said.
Although the CPM has been holding small meetings in its Darjeeling party office for the past couple of years, no state-level leader has attended them. No rally has been organised by the CPM in the hills since the Morcha’s formation in October 2007.
Sources in the CPM said they were aware that making the rally a success would be easier said than done because both the Morcha and Trinamul would not allow any space to the CPM.
“Jyoti Basu still has some goodwill in the hills as his government had allowed the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council…. That’s why we will organise the rally here as part of his birth centenary celebrations,” a source said, inadvertently admitting the deficiencies in the party’s organisation.