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regular-article-logo Friday, 01 March 2024

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to start rural poll campaign from Cooch Behar in north 

At rally, she is expected to woo Rajbanshi community as section of populace is angry with ruling party

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 25.06.23, 06:45 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File picture

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will start her campaign for the July 8 rural polls on Monday from Cooch Behar, Trinamul sources said on Saturday.

A source in the Trinamul said though Mamata would not engage in an extensive campaign for the rural polls, she would address a few areas in both north and south Bengal where Opposition parties, mainly the BJP, have emerged as a challenge to Bengal's ruling dispensation.

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"The party has shortlisted some strategic areas across Bengal where the chief minister will campaign for the party. She will start in north Bengal and end with places on the fringes of Calcutta," said a Trinamul leader.

Mamata will address her first campaign rally on Monday at Chamdamari ground in Cooch Behar, a district known as a stronghold of the saffron camp. At the rally, she is expected to woo the Rajbanshi community as a section of the populace is angry with the ruling party over three incidents in North Dinajpur — the alleged murder and rape of a 17-year-old girl, the death of a youth, Mrityunjoy Barman, in reported police firing and the incident of a father forced to carry the body of his infant boy in a bag in a bus because of the alleged highhandedness of ambulance drivers.

The verdict of the people of the community matter in four north Bengal districts, including Cooch Behar, in the rural poll will be crucial for Trinamul.

Against the backdrop of these incidents, Mamata's campaign would be vital as Trinamul wants to wrest its lost support base from the BJP in these north Bengal districts before the 2024 general elections.

Mamata will also address another campaign rally at Malbazar in the Dooars on Tuesday to address tea garden workers who play a key factor in the rural polls.

After returning from the north, she will reach out to chosen pockets in south Bengal, including Jungle Mahal districts and East Midnapore.

"The party has finalised its strategy for the rural polls at a meeting on June 17 in the presence of Mamata. We are taking the rural polls as a preparatory event before the 2024 elections. So, the area of focus has been set after several discussions. Besides Mamata, her nephew and party national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee will also reach out to various pockets in the state," a senior Trinamul leader said.

Trinamul has finalised over 50 leaders from Calcutta to reach out to the districts and campaign based on a schedule finalised by Abhishek's office.

"We are reaching out to people with development schemes launched by the state government. We are also trying to send out a message that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was depriving Bengal's rural poor of schemes like 100 days' work and rural dwelling units," said Trinamul spokesperson Tanmoy Ghosh, campaigning in Jhargram since June 21.

A source said Trinamul would not repeat the mistakes of the 2018 rural polls. In 2023, it began its preparation for the rural polls at least six months ago and sent out a clear message to its leaders for a free and fair election.

Though the Opposition has accused Trinamul of violence and intimidation in the run-up to rural polls, senior party leaders said they want to know the party's weaker zones through rural polls in "as fair a way as possible".

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