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Barla aide joins Trinamul

Dec. 5: Sukra Munda, a close aide to tribal leader John Barla, joined Trinamul at Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri today.

Munda is the chairman of the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (PTWU) floated by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.

He had walked out of the Parishad about one-and-a-half years back along with Barla after differences cropped up in the organisation over extending support to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the issue of bringing the Terai and the Dooars under the GTA.

Recently, Munda, along with some followers, wrote to Parishad state president Birsa Tirkey, expressing willingness to return to the organisation.

Munda, who received a Trinamul flag from north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb at Nagrakata today, said: “So far, I was associated with the Adivasi Vikas Parishad, which is an NGO. Now, I have joined Trinamul and would like to work in the party to expedite the development of Dooars.”

Munda had worked for the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha that was formally brought into north Bengal by Barla and his supporters while seeking a political platform after Barla was ousted from the Parishad.

“Sukra Munda was a prominent leader in the Barla lobby and has a good number of followers in the tea belt. Unlike other Barla supporters, who had taken up political tasks, Munda was mostly involved in the tea trade union and took up issues concerning tea workers. He had participated in several bipartite and tripartite meetings of the tea industry, some of which were convened by the state government,” said a political observer.

“Now that he has joined Trinamul, the party has got a popular tribal face in the Dooars who has acceptance among tea workers. He can help increase the support base of Trinamul’s tea trade union in the region.”

Minister Deb said around 14,000 people from different organisations had joined Trinamul in Jalpaiguri.

Today in Calcutta, a group of dissident Forward Bloc leaders from Jalpaiguri, including district secretary Prabal Raha, joined Trinamul.

Apart from Raha, some other leaders who joined Trinamul today include Nihar Sarkar, Shibshankar Bose, Subhankar Mishra and some district committee members of the Bloc.

“We have joined Trinamul to pave the way for development in Jalpaiguri. All of us have grudges against certain activities of the state committee of the Forward Bloc ,” Raha said over the phone from Calcutta today.

With the resignation of the leaders, the Forward Bloc in Jalpaiguri now lacks representatives in several important posts in the region.

“It is just a matter of time that we form new district committee of the party and frontal organisations,” Udayan Guha, a state secretariat member of the Forward Bloc, said.