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Home / West-bengal / Trinamul Congress bid to break BJP’s back in Jungle Mahal

Trinamul Congress bid to break BJP’s back in Jungle Mahal

TMC launches manoeuvres to engineer defections at rural bodies in several south districts
The BJP had won five out of six Lok Sabha seats in 2019, with leads in 31 of the 40 Assembly segments, in the Jungle Mahal which is a vast tribal-dominated region comprising four south Bengal districts. But the saffron camp slumped to victories in only 16 of the 40 Assembly seats this summer.

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Purulia   |   Published 05.07.21, 01:07 AM

The Trinamul Congress has set in motion an exercise to weaken the BJP from the ground up in the Jungle Mahal by engineering en masse defections or ghar-wapsi of elected representatives, taking control of panchayats and freely inducting local BJP workers. 

The BJP had won five out of six Lok Sabha seats in 2019, with leads in 31 of the 40 Assembly segments, in the Jungle Mahal which is a vast tribal-dominated region comprising four south Bengal districts. 

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But the saffron camp slumped to victories in only 16 of the 40 Assembly seats this summer.

Trinamul has been at work to ensure a lasting turnaround in the 100-odd gram panchayats and half a dozen panchayat samitis run by the BJP in the region.

In Purulia, for instance, one panchayat samiti and four gram panchayats have gone the Trinamul way with defections of the BJP’s elected representatives since the May 2 Assembly election results.

Trinamul’s manoeuvrers in the district since the summer of 2019 had born fruit as the BJP’s victory margin in the Purulia Lok Sabha seat comprising seven key Assembly segments was dragged down from 2.05 lakh in the parliamentary election to less than 13,000 in the Assembly polls.

“Ajit Bauri (the BJP’s leader of the Opposition in the Purulia zilla parishad) joined us (Trinamul) last week, further consolidating our party in the district,” said Gurupada Tudu, Trinamul’s Purulia unit chief.

“Many more panchayat functionaries are headed our way. Taking control of rural local bodies would help us deliver development — something the BJP is incapable of anyway — in the region, thereby winning back the confidence of the masses,” he added.

Similarly, in Bankura and Jhargram, several rural local bodies have changed hands in the recent past.

Jhargram district Trinamul coordinator Ujjwal Dutta claimed the BJP’s elected representatives and leaders had started back-channel parleys with the ruling establishment even months before the Assembly elections. 

“They were exploring possibilities of defection if the saffron camp fell short of its target of 200 seats in the Assembly polls. After the BJP slumped to 77 in the 294-seat House, the floodgates opened,” said Dutta.

All four of Jhargram’s Assembly seats, in which the BJP had secured lead two years ago, swung the Trinamul way this election.

The ruling party has been on a public relations overdrive with BJP-supporting villages as well, wooing them extensively to ensure the support base of the saffron camp is minimised, if not eliminated, before the next important election.

“Getting the leaders or elected representatives without supporters could be detrimental as that kind of defection is only superficial. That was the mistake the BJP made ahead of the Assembly elections and it was one of the key reasons for its rout,” said Nabendu Mahali, Trinamul’s Purulia district spokesperson.

The beleaguered BJP, however, tried putting up a brave face, claiming the Trinamul exercise would amount to nought. 

“Let the 2024 Lok Sabha elections arrive. You will see that we will win all six Lok Sbha seats in the Jungle Mahal. Irrespective of what happens in between — because Trinamul is securing defections through fear or favour — the people of the region will stay firmly with the BJP,” said Bidyasagar Chakraborty, the BJP’s Purulia unit chief.



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