The Telegraph
Monday , July 1 , 2013
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Parishad praises Mamata govt

June 30: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today lauded the purported efforts by the Mamata Banerjee government to resolve the problems faced by tribals and said there were chances of an alliance with the Trinamul Congress after the panchayat polls.

Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad and other leaders, visited Karala Valley Tea Estate, located on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri town, today to campaign for their candidates.

“The present state government has resolved a number of issues afflicting the livelihood and socio-economic growth of the tribal people. It has also taken an initiative for the improvement of the tribal populace living in north Bengal,” Tirkey told journalists on the tea estate.

“The tribals now get a day’s leave on the occasion of ‘Karam Puja’ (a tribal festival); tea garden wages have been increased, the Terai Dooars Development Council has been announced and a separate tribal welfare department has been formed by the state government,” he added.

“Such acts by the state have brought new hopes for the adivasis who have been deprived of their rights during the Left Front regime. Further, the state government has decided to open a Hindi College in the Dooars, which had been another demand of our people,” Tirkey said.

Asked about the possibility of an alliance with Trinamul, the Parishad state president said: “There are arrangements at local levels with Trinamul and we have fielded common Independent candidates. We cannot comment right now on the chances of a tie-up at the zilla parishad. But there are prospects for a post-poll alliance.”

The Parishad, which has been vehemently opposing the campaign by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung in the Dooars, is trying to get closer to Trinamul by praising the state government, feel observers.

“So far, there has been no alliance between the Morcha and Trinamul. On the other hand, Bimal Gurung is raising the issue of inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the GTA Sabha. This has naturally left John Barla and JMM in a fix as they know well that Trinamul is against this agenda and would never join hands with them unless the issue is left out,” said an observer.

“The Parishad, which has called a strike to protest Gurung’s entry into the Dooars, is trying to cosy up to Trinamul. The tribal leaders feel an opportunity has come as Trinamul cannot afford to antagonise the majority of the voters in the Dooars by sharing a platform with John Barla or Gurung. This would mean Trinamul is supporting the demand for the inclusion of the plains in the GTA,” he said.

Rajesh Lakra, the general secretary of north Bengal regional unit of the Parishad, who was present at the meeting, said they were waiting for the polls to be over. “Once the polls are over and the results are out, we would be in a position to identify the areas where we are in a position to help other parties form the boards. We have no problems with Trinamul as the party supports our cause and demands and is against the separatist agendas of the Morcha and the JMM. We think Trinamul leaders also know it and will take right decisions.”