Atul Roy. File picture
Siliguri, March 20: Kamtapur Peoples’ Party chief Atul Roy today said the BJP candidate for Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, S.S. Ahluwalia, had called him to seek support.
Roy said the Rajbangshi outfit would wait for a few days for the Trinamul Congress to respond to their recent discussion on an alliance before initiating talks with the BJP.
“Today, I got a call from S.S. Ahluwalia who sought support of our party. Earlier, we had a talk with Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy regarding extending support to Mamata Banerjee’s party. But we set a condition that Trinamul has to ensure that we have a dialogue with the chief minister regarding demands of the Rajbangshis, like conservation of culture, language and creation of employment opportunities,” Roy said today.
Sources in the BJP have confirmed that Ahluwalia called up Roy for the KPP’s support.
Roy said Mukul Roy had told KPP leaders that he would visit north Bengal before polls and sit with them (to discuss an alliance).
“But no communication has been made from Trinamul so far. Now that we have an offer from the BJP, we will wait for 48 or 72 hours and meet S.S. Ahluwalia in Darjeeling to discuss the issue,” he added.
Ahluwalia’s attempt to reach out to the KPP is being seen is a move aimed at consolidating the Rajbangshi vote bank, which is seen to be mostly with the KPP. Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat has a sizeable Rajbangshi population in Matigara-Naxalbari and Chopra Assembly segments.
“KPP has a vote bank of eight to 10 per cent in each of the Assembly segments reserved for SCs in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar that is known to be anti-Left. If KPP joins hands with the BJP, it would affect the votes of the anti-Left parties like Trinamul and the Congress,” said an observer.
“The KPP has an underlying grouse about Trinamul ministers’ failure to meet its leaders ever since Trinamul came to power in Bengal,” he added.
KPP chief Roy said the party wanted to support Trinamul. “None of the ministers have taken any initiative to address our grievances. We have repeatedly tried to point out that Rajbangshis are feeling disgruntled and joining outfits like the KLO because of the government’s neglect.”
He said Ahluwalia had assured him today that the BJP would look into the KPP demands. “He told me that his party would look into our issues. We would consider the offer while taking a final decision at our central committee meeting. Parties know the importance of Rajbangshis, who, according to us, form around 50 per cent of the total votes in north Bengal. Of the 54 Assembly seats here, around 20 are for SCs. Our community is a majority among the SCs.”
Trinamul leaders in Siliguri said they did not know about talks between KPP and the ruling party. “We don’t know about talks between Mukul Roy and Atul Roy. KPP leaders should understand that Trinamul can improve the socio-economic condition of Rajbangshis. They should support us instead of joining hands with the BJP, which advocates partition of Bengal,” said a leader.