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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Mamata Banerjee’s Jungle Mahal tour begins from Tuesday

A sudden rise in Maoist activities in two districts is being attributed to lack of coordination among Trinamul Congress leaders because of alleged infighting

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 17.05.22, 12:59 AM
TMC workers take out a march at Nayagram in Jhargram district on Sunday campaigning for Mamata Banerjee’s forthcoming political rally.

TMC workers take out a march at Nayagram in Jhargram district on Sunday campaigning for Mamata Banerjee’s forthcoming political rally. Buddhadeb Bera

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be visiting two districts affected by LWE (Left wing extremism) from Tuesday with a sudden rise in Maoist activities being attributed to lack of coordination among Trinamul Congress leaders because of alleged infighting.

With panchayat elections scheduled for next summer, Mamata, sources said, will try to set things right in West Midnapore and Jhargram districts. The chief minister will not only hold administrative review meetings to take stock of the district administrations’ performance in terms of delivering on development but also address the grassroots level Trinamul leaders and members of rural bodies during her three-day trip.

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“The visit to the districts is planned keeping in mind panchayat polls. Although our party had performed well in the Jungle Mahal in the Assembly elections last year in comparison with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has a considerable presence in the region compared to the rest of south Bengal. The surge in Maoist activities and the lack of coordination among local Trinamul leaders are two major challenges for her in the Jungle Mahal and it will be interesting to see how the chief minister handles these things,” said a senior Trinamul leader in Calcutta.

Trinamul had won all four Assembly seats in Jhargram and 13 of 15 constituencies in West Midnapore in 2021. Overall, Trinamul won 28 of the 40 Assembly seats in the Jungle Mahal, dashing the hopes of the BJP in a region where the party had taken lead in 31 Assembly segments in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Mamata will reach West Midnapore on Tuesday afternoon and conduct an administrative review meeting there. On Wednesday, she will address a political meeting at Medinipur College ground before leaving for Jhargram. The chief minister will conduct the administrative meeting in Jhargram on Wednesday and on Thursday, she will meet the Trinamul workers and leaders before returning to Calcutta.

During a news conference at Trinamul Bhavan on April 5, Mamata had announced her visit to the Jungle Mahal from May 10 but it was deferred by a week following weather alerts.

“During my visit to West Midnapore and Jhargram, I will meet the booth presidents and panchayat members of my party,” Mamata had said.

A Nasbanna source said Mamata would visit the other two Jungle Mahal districts — Bankura and Purulia — within a fortnight.

Multiple sources said the rising visibility of Maoist activities was definitely a challenge for Mamata in the Jungle Mahal before the panchayat polls next year.

Although local Trinamul leaders have been trying to downplay this issue and linking Opposition parties, especially the BJP, to the higher visibility of the Maoists, the chief minister, sources said, is in no mood to take any chances. At a recent administrative meeting at Nabanna, Mamata told a senior police officer in Jhargram that she had specific information on the entry of a few suspected leaders (Maoists) from Jharkhand into border areas of Jhargram.

Following Mamata’s directive, DGP Manoj Malaviya visited all the four Jungle Mahal districts in April and asked police to find out whether people in remote areas were having any problem in getting government benefits. Amid murmurs that the Maoists were regrouping and planning attacks on ruling party leaders, the police also asked Trinamul leaders in the LWE-affected districts to return home before dusk.

“The state government had asked all the four Jungle Mahal districts and districts like Birbhum and West Burdwan having borders with Jharkhand to campaign on state government’s benefit schemes like Lakshmir Bhandar or old age pensions. The officials have been asked to provide government benefits on a larger scale to the people of the Jungle Mahal in the ongoing Duare Sarkar camps as the government wants to handle the LWS threat with development,” said an official.

A section of Trinamul leaders said the fear of Maoists in their old bastion had kept many of them away from the organisation or regular activities for some time. Sources said Mamata may raise the issue in her political meetings and give her suggestions or opinions to combat the situation.

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