Mamata Banerjee to visit BJP bastions at home, Goa
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has drawn up a plan to recast her focus on two BJP bastions, a region in her own state and a state in west India.
On October 24, Mamata is set to arrive in north Bengal on a four-day trip and from here, fly to Goa, a state in which her party has initiated political activities along with Tripura in recent months.
After assuming office for the third time, this will be Mamata’s first visit to north Bengal, a region where the BJP has emerged as a major political force.
“The Bhowanipore by-election had perhaps held back the chief minister as she planned a visit to north Bengal ahead of the Durga Puja but postponed it. Now that the bypoll is over and she is an elected MLA, it is clear she is all set to focus on the region,” said a political observer.
He pointed out that along with other parts of Bengal, civic and rural elections would be held in north Bengal districts. Trinamul intends to revive its support base here before these local polls.
“The idea is to try and prevent BJP from winning the Lok Sabha seats of north Bengal at the 2024 Lok Sabha polls for which Trinamul has major plans,” the observer added.
Mamata, sources said, will attend a “Bijoya Sanmilani” (a post-Dussehra get-together) hosted by the Siliguri Metropolitan Police on October 24.
The next day, she will attend a review meeting of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts. On October 26, she will head to Kurseong to attend a similar review meeting of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. She will stay in north Bengal on October 27 and is likely to leave for Goa the next day, said sources.
Mamata’s visit, Trinamul insiders said, was significant as there have been new development in north Bengal.
BJP legislator John Barla, who is also a Union minister of state, has renewed the demand for a north Bengal state, backed by a number of BJP leaders, including former state chief Dilip Ghosh.
Last week, Union home minister Amit Shah chaired a tripartite meeting on a political solution for Gorkhas. A similar meeting may be held in November.
“BJP leaders here are trying to stoke the sentiments of people... The chief minister’s visit is important and we believe she will take steps so that strategies of the BJP do not work,” said a Trinamul leader.
The Mamata government has met some demands of north Bengal, for example recognising the Rajbanshi language and and making it a medium of instruction in schools, constituting development and cultural boards for different communities, to mollify those raising the demand for statehood. Hundreds of former KLO militants, who had once left the mainstream on the same demand, have been inducted as home guards.
Mamata is likely to fly from Bagdogra to Goa on October 28 and return to Bengal on November 1. Sources in the party said she was likely to oversee the induction of eminent personalities in Goa to Trinamul and hold meetings for a roadmap ahead of Assembly polls there in February.
Focus on repair
The absence of persistent rain across Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and north Bengal foothills since Wednesday late evening helped the administration and social organisations to focus on restoration work. But landslide-hit NH10, which connects Sikkim and Kalimpong with the rest of the country, was still closed.