Bhaichung addresses a Trinamul workers’ meeting in Siliguri on Tuesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, March 11: The Trinamul Congress today said the Lok Sabha contest in Darjeeling would be Bimal Gurung’s first encounter with Mamata Banerjee in the political arena and he would be forced to step aside like he had to in the past.
Subrata Bakshi, the state president of Trinamul, launched a broadside against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief at a convention of party office-bearers attended by Darjeeling candidate Bhaichung Bhutia.
“So far, whenever Bimal Gurung had issues with Mamata Banerjee in the hills on administrative matters, he was forced to work out a compromise with her. The chief minister, through her acumen and sincerity to expedite development of the hills, could bring about Gurung’s climbdown,” Bakshi told 500-odd Trinamul leaders form the Darjeeling district.
“However, Gurung has never faced her in a political battle. This is the first time that he will see Mamata Banerjee as the prime political contender in the hills. We hope this time, too, there will be a repetition, that is Gurung’s withdrawal from the fight.”
Trinamul and the Morcha have never taken on each other in the elections till now.
In 2009, Mamata did not campaign in the hills against the Morcha. The Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat was left to the Congress then. Also, in the 2011 Assembly polls, Trinamul didn’t field candidates in three hill constituencies.
Trinamul decided to be inactive during the municipal and GTA Sabha polls as well. “This is the first time that Trinamul is putting all efforts in the hills during polls,” said an observer.
Today’s onslaught on the Morcha was the first from Trinamul in recent times.
Footballer Bhaichung, who addressed Trinamul workers in the plains for the first time since the announcement of his candidature, was terse.
“My karmabhumi is Bengal. I vow to work with honesty and sincerity like I have played in the field and led India for 11 years. I have always played wearing jersey number 15. Now, I want to change it and wear the number one jersey,” the player said amid loud cheers and claps of the party workers.
“It is our own party which should go to Delhi and expedite the development of Bengal and the country as a whole. We have to work together to ensure that my dream to bring a change in Bengal becomes a reality,” he added.
“We have a huge number of young voters. Our workers should talk to them and explain to them why they should stand by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the ensuing polls,” said Bhaichung.
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb and Trinamul candidate for Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha seat Bijoy Krishna Burman were also present at the meeting.
Ridiculing Gurung’s recent comments on Bhaichung’s candidature, Deb said: “The Morcha president had told the media that he would quit politics if Bhaichung got more than 15,000 votes from the three hill Assembly constituencies. I would like to ask him how many times he will leave politics. Earlier, he had threatened to leave politics if he couldn’t achieve a separate state.”