The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bangshi outfit floats new party
- Forward Bloc suffers ‘gimmick’ shock

Cooch Behar, Aug. 16: Setting aside their conviction that the state elections were an illegal imposition on the people of the district, the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association has now decided to join electoral politics by launching a party.

What was till now an apolitical organisation will emerge in its new avatar — the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party — at Hisabitari Primary School near Prantik Bazar in Dinhata on Sunday, August 20.

The association under founder-secretary Bangshibadan Barman shot into prominence on September 20 last year, when five people, including three policemen, were killed during what was declared a peaceful agitation.

The organisation has been claiming that since Cooch Behar is a “C” category state under the Constitution, it should be left out of the Assembly elections.

The convener-designate of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party Bhabesh Barman, who is the association’s convener, has confirmed the launch of the party. “We are not giving up the demand for ‘C’ category statehood. Instead, we are going to press for the rightful status through this political platform,” said Barman. He, however, refused to divulge any other detail. “We will announce its launch at a news conference on August 20. Only then will I be able to provide more information,” he said.

However, insiders in the association said a 21-member central committee has already been formed. Students, women and trade union wings and farmers’ bodies were also being formed.

With Bangshibadan still behind bars and awaiting trial as an accused in the September 20-incident, the leadership of the new party has done away with the secretary’s post for now. Instead, they are following the Congress model by having a working president.

The CPM and Forward Bloc have described the association’s move as a “gimmick”. Nripen Roy, the former Bloc MLA of Sitai, said: “So long they had been against elections. Now they are launching their own party to participate in the polls. How will they explain this to the people'”

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