Siliguri, April 2: The tea estate population in the Terai covering the three Assembly segments of Matigara-Naxalbari, Phansidewa and Chopra is the vote Trinamul is banking on to win the Darjeeling seat.
The party, keen to secure a lead for candidate Bhaichung Bhutia from the plains to offset the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s possible lead in the hills, is intensively campaigning in the tea estates of Siliguri subdivision and the Chopra Assembly seat.
“We have 42 tea estates in the Terai where the total number of voters is around 90,000. Besides, there are around 20,000 voters from the tea estates and small tea plantations of Chopra. It is the Trinamul trade union and the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (PTWU) — the tea workers’ front of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad — which has equal support base in these tea estates,” Aloke Chakraborty, the working president of Trinamul Tea Plantation Workers’ Union, said today.
“Considering the series of initiatives taken by the state for the tea workers and that the Adivasi Vikas Parishad has announced its support via media, we are confident of securing the maximum votes in the tea belt in the Terai.”
“There is a Rajbangshi population in non-tea garden areas of Siliguri subdivision and the KPP has allied with the BJP. Also, both Assembly seats in the rural areas of Siliguri have Congress MLAs and the party also has a base there. These are cause of concerns for Trinamul as there is a risk of votes getting divided among candidates,” a source said.
Chakraborty, the working president of Darjeeling district Trinamul, said: “Bhaichung Bhutia is regularly visiting tea estates. Tomorrow, he will spend time in tea estates, hear from men and women and will have food with them.”
Another vote bank which the Trinamul is eyeing is the minority vote bank in Chopra, a party source said. “Chopra has a sizeable minority population. As the contest is with the BJP, Trinamul will surely play the anti-BJP card to garner minority votes.”