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Parishad hints at Barla return

Siliguri, Dec. 10: Leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today hinted that they were ready to bring back John Barla and his supporters who had left the organisation two years ago.

The process of bringing back the leaders of the Barla faction, like Sukra Munda, started last month. Munda and his supporters had written to the state committee of the Parishad expressing their willingness to return. Munda and Barla left the Parishad in December 2011 after differences had cropped up within the organisation over extending support to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the GTA.

Recently, Munda joined Trinamul .

“Sukra Munda had written to us saying he wanted to return. The state committee considered it and I visited different places in north Bengal to know what our people want. All of them said they wanted Parishad to unify again as the presence of multiple factions was affecting our common agenda of tribal development,” Parishad state president Birsa Tirkey said today. “As far as John Barla and leaders like Raju Bara (general secretary of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s north Bengal regional committee) are concerned, their primary memberships was cancelled. But if our supporters and the tribal people want them back in the Parishad, we would look into the matter.”

“We are aware that Sukra Munda has joined Trinamul but that does not stop him from joining the Parishad. People had joined the JMM for a symbol to contest polls. The JMM leaders are free to join the Parishad,” he said.

Tirkey has been travelling across the Dooars and Terai since December 5.

“The task of reuniting the Parishad is in progress and we expect that a meeting will be held in the first week of January where we can formally make the announcement.”

Barla, who is in Calcutta, sounded optimistic. “I have held talks with Birsa Tirkey in Calcutta. We have always listened to the common people and if they want me to go back to the Parishad and strengthen the fight for tribals’ rights, I would surely do so,” he said. “So far as the JMM is concerned, we had approached the party for its symbol and for a political platform.”

Observers said he would benefit if he returned to the Parishad. “Barla had supported the Morcha with an intention of getting the Terai and Dooars included in the GTA. But the Morcha cannot use the GTA funds for these areas. The state has taken up projects for the Dooars and many tribals are joining Trinamul. It would be good for Barla to return to the Parishad now. He can continue with the JMM as it has no ideological differences with the Parishad,” said an observer.