The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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JMM backs BJP in Alipurduar

March 14: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leaders in the Dooars today said the party would back the BJP in the Alipurduar Lok Sabha seat, a move that is likely to split tribal votes which were expected to go to the Trinamul Congress that had been offered support by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.

The JMM has an alliance with the Congress in the neighbouring Jharkhand. The Dooars leaders of the JMM said the party was an ally of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and that was why they were backing the BJP’s Birender Bara in Alipurduar.

The Morcha has already extended support to the BJP in north Bengal.

“We are not concerned about the JMM’s alliance with any other party in Jharkhand. But here in the Dooars, we have been supporting the Morcha for long. Now that the Morcha has joined hands with the BJP, we too, have decided to support the latter in Alipurduar,” Raju Bara, the general secretary of the Dooars committee of the JMM, said today.

Birender is the brother of Raju.

The JMM formed a unit in the Dooars with leaders who left the Parishad a few years ago.

Observers said the JMM’s decision to back the BJP would eat into Trinamul’s tribal votes.

“Last week, the Parishad president, Birsa Tirkey, had said the outfit would extend its support to Trinamul because of Mamata Banerjee government’s development projects for the Dooars and the Terai. Alipurduar is a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Tribe and 60 per cent of the voters are adivasis. The JMM’s decision will split tribal votes and Trinamul is in a spot now. The direct fight is between the BJP and Trinamul now. The Congress and the RSP are behind the other two parties,” said an observer.

Trinamul has fielded Manohar Tirkey in the seat.

John Barla, the prominent leader of the JMM in the Dooars, said the BJP had promised the development of the Dooars and the Terai.

“So far, no government at the Centre has done anything for the tribals in the Terai and the Dooars. The BJP has, however, assured us that if it is elected to power, the party will surely look into our demand for autonomy of the Terai and the Dooars.”

Sourav Chakraborty, the Trinamul observer for Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar parliament seats, said no voter was in favour of the division of the state.

“The people have witnessed Trinamul government’s development projects in the plains. They will vote for the Trinamul candidate.”