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TMC gears up for polls

- Members from Congress, JD-U & AIUDF join party

Guwahati, Dec. 2: The Trinamul Congress (TMC) is gearing up to fight the 2014 Lok Sabha election in Assam.

A meeting of party leaders and workers from across Assam, where more than 70 members of the Congress, Janata Dal (United) and AIUDF joined the TMC in the presence of several central-level party leaders here this morning, and the announcement that party chief Mamata Banerjee will address a public meeting here next month, suggested as much.

At present, the TMC has only one legislator in the 126-member Assam Assembly and no MP — Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats — from the state. The party certainly doesn’t consider this an insurmountable hurdle.

“We had only one MP, Mamata Banerjee, once. But look at the situation now,” Firhad Hakim, Bengal’s municipal minister, said at the meeting.

Those who attended the meeting included former railway minister and leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha, Mukul Roy, party observer in the Northeast, K.D. Singh, Rajya Sabha member Derek O’ Brien and Bengal’s health minister Chandrima Bhattacharya.

“Mamatadi is very concerned and serious about Assam. Therefore, she has sent all of us today. That is why she had introduced several long and short distance trains in Assam. Earlier, the party could not concentrate much on Assam because it was busy in its own state, fighting to come to power. But Mamatadi is expanding the base of the party and we will field candidates here in the Lok Sabha election,” said Roy. He, however, said the party was yet to finalise the number of constituencies it would fight from.

Hakim said the TMC was the only party that worked for the poor and the lower middle class people. “Earlier, the Maoist issue was the biggest problem in Bengal. But now the poor people have realised that our government is for them. They have found a chief minister who goes to them, thinks about them. Maoism cannot penetrate into the poor man’s psyche now,” he said.

Roy talked about how Congress has done little for the development of the state, especially in removing the problem of unemployment. “The Congress has ruled Assam for a long time after Independence. But there is no industry in the state, barring the oil refineries,” he said.

Singh told party workers that their enthusiasm had made him hope for a much better result in the next Assembly election. He said Assam required an optional party they could vote to power. “TMC will be that only optional party,” he said. A website for the Assam chapter of the party was also launched at the meeting.

The president of the Assam Pradesh Trinamul Congress Committee, Dwipen Pathak, appealed to the party’s central leaders: “If you pay equal attention to Assam and Bengal, the party will be able to form a government here as well.”