Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will visit Darjeeling for a three-day trip from Monday after nearly a year at a time when a section of hill leaders are trying to form a new political equation in the hills.
Sources said Mamata will reach Darjeeling on Monday evening.
“She will unveil the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and C.R. Das erected near Raj Bhavan at 3pm on Tuesday. She is also likely to distribute some benefits to beneficiaries of certain government projects at the event,” said a source.
On Wednesday, her meeting with some industrialists has been lined up at Gorkha Bhawan at 3pm.
The last industrialists' meet in Darjeeling was organised in March 2018.
“We need to see if there has been any significant progress since the March 2018 meet,” said a political observer.
Many, including politicians close to Trinamul and administrative officials were surprised by Mamata's “sudden” plans to visit Darjeeling hills.
She last was in Darjeeling hills in July 2022 at a time when Anit Thapa was sworn in as the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
“Politically, she was in complete control of affairs in the hills. She helped Thapa win the elections with her support. Her party, Trinamul, also came up with its best performance in Darjeeling politics with five of its candidates being elected to the 45-member GTA Sabha,” said an observer.
Though Mamata is still in control of the hills, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung and prominent hill politician Binay Tamang are no longer her allies.
Tamang is leaning towards the Congress. Many hill leaders are also looking at new political equations.
“Hence, Mamata's Darjeeling visit is significant,” said an observer.
Some residents expressed concern at Mamata's visit during peak tourist season, fearing more traffic snarls.