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Tribal hand for TMC
- Parishad SMP alliance with ruling party

Siliguri, April 30: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said the outfit would contest the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls as an ally of the Trinamul Congress.

“We will take part in the coming three-tier panchayat polls in Siliguri subdivision as an ally of Trinamul. I will visit north Bengal along with other state leaders to take stock of the political situation in the Terai,” the Parishad’s state president Birsa Tirkey said over the phone from Calcutta.

Elections to panchayats, panchayat samitis and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad are scheduled for June.

Told about Tirkey’s statement, Trinamul north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said: “The Parishad has extended support to Trinamul in the Lok Sabha polls after seeing the consistent initiatives by the state government and the chief minister for the comprehensive socio-economic development of tribals in the Terai and Dooars. It is evident that the alliance will continue…. The same association will be in the SMP elections as well.”

The minister said talks would be held between the Parishad and Trinamul in due course over seat-sharing.

The Parishad has offered support to Trinamul in the Lok Sabha polls with directives being issued to cadres to vote for the ruling party in their respective constituencies.

The tribal outfit extended the support to Trinamul saying the Mamata Banerjee government had taken a number of initiatives for the progress of adivasis.

The alliance for the SMP polls with the Parishad is expected to help Trinamul bag tribal votes.

The SMP covers the entire Terai region. There are 42 tea gardens in the Terai with over 70,000 voters and most of them are adivasis.

A Parishad leader in the Terai claimed that tribal votes would be consolidated in favour of Trinamul in the SMP elections.

“The support base of the Congress and the CPM has eroded in the tea belt of the Terai after the Trinamul government brought about a hike of Rs 28 for workers in the tea gardens in the plains. Further, Trinamul is the only party which is strongly opposed to the demand for a separate state raised by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Leaders of other parties indirectly talk in favour of the Gorkhaland demand, although they know that the tribals are against the separate state. All these factors will work to the advantage of Trinamul,” he said.

Tirkey also said ahead of the polls, the Parishad would seek the cancellation of a recommendation by Justice Shyamal Sen commission to include three mouzas, which were under the jurisdiction of the SMP, in the GTA Sabha area.

“The state has already formed the Dooars Terai Development Council and there is no logic in including the three mouzas in the GTA,” he added.

The three mouzas are M.M. Terai, Gulmakhari and East Karaibari in the Siliguri subdivision. Two more mouzas in the Malbazar subdivision of Jalpaiguri district were recommended for their inclusion in the GTA by the commission in 2012.