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Trinamul clinches Purulia rural body as BJP men switch sides

The BJP members who crossed sides said they wanted to be part of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s 'development endeavours'

By Abhijeet Chatterjee in Purulia
  • Published 21.12.18, 4:35 AM
  • Updated 21.12.18, 4:35 AM
  • 2 mins read
Abhishek with the newly inducted Trinamul members in Purulia on Thursday. Picture by Biswanath Roy

Trinamul on Thursday secured a majority in the Balarampur panchayat samiti in Purulia after eight BJP members joined the ruling party in the presence of Trinamul MP Abhishek Banerjee.

The formation of the board at the panchayat samiti had been stalled since August over the administration’s apprehensions of law and order problems.

The BJP members who crossed sides said they wanted to be part of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s “development endeavours”.

Abhishek, Mamata’s nephew and Trinamul’s observer for Purulia, was in the district to campaign for the party’s January 19 Brigade Parade Grounds rally.

Balarampur is among four panchayat samitis in Purulia where the BJP had got a majority in the rural polls this summer. But it had managed to form the board only in one after most of its winners switched to Trinamul following alleged intimidation.

In the Balarampur panchayat samiti the BJP had won 17 of the 20 seats and Trinamul three. Now, Trinamul has 11, enabling it form the board.

The BJP had also won two zilla parishad seats and a majority in all seven gram panchayats in the Balarampur block, sending shockwaves through the ruling party’s district leadership.

Balarampur had also come into the spotlight across India over the deaths of two BJP Dalit Morcha workers, Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar, under mysterious circumstances, in June. BJP chief Amit Shah had held a public meeting in Purulia to protest the alleged murders.

On Thursday, the BJP alleged that the administration had stalled the formation of the board since August despite the party’s a clear majority with the “ulterior” motive of helping Trinamul intimidate or luring its members.

“Trinamul is using the administration and police to intimidate our winning members and also luring them with job offers and money to join their party. All were forced or tempted to switch over,” alleged Sayantan Basu, BJP state general-secretary and his party’s district observer for Purulia.

Trinamul denied the charges. “We did not force anyone to join Trinamul. If anyone is inspired by Mamata Banerjee’s development and willingly wants to join our party, what can we do? It is not our responsibility to help the BJP retain them,” said minister Shantiram Mahato, Trinamul’s district president.

The BJP had done relatively well in the rural polls in Purulia, bagging nine out of 38 zilla parishad seats and a majority in 44 gram panchayats out of 170. It had secured a majority in four panchayat samitis out of the 20 in the district.