Cooch Behar: TMC shows strength, holds rally against statehood cry
The Trinamul Congress showed its strength in Cooch Behar on Tuesday as the party purportedly assembled around one lakh people in the district headquarters to drive home the point that majority of local residents were against the demand for a separate state.
Trinamul supporters, who reached Cooch Behar from various parts of the district, assembled at Rashmela Ground that is in the heart of the town. There, they attended a public meeting and joined a rally as their leaders accused the saffron camp of “conspiring to divide Bengal”.
The rally had been announced by Trinamul in August after a number of BJP legislators in the district, including Nisith Pramanik, the local MP who is also a junior Union minister, had obliquely backed the demand for the separate state of Cooch Behar.
The BJP legislators were speaking at an event organised by a faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association, which has been flagging the demand for years.
“We had announced earlier that through today’s rally, we would prove that people here do not want any further partition of Bengal. The attendance of over one lakh people from different communities has proved it. Leaders of the BJP and some other organisations should refrain from conspiring to divide our state or else, there will be intense protests,” said Girindranath Barman, the chairman of Cooch Behar district Trinamul.
The rally was held within 24 hours of the BJP taking out a similar march in Tufanganj. State BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar and a number of MLAs of the party were present at the march.
Udayan Guha, the north Bengal development minister, on Tuesday slammed the saffron camp and other associations for raising the statehood demand.
“Some people want a separate Darjeeling state, while others are speaking of separate north Bengal state, Kamtapur state and even want Cooch Behar to be a Union territory. The BJP is inciting these people who are dreaming to be a chief minister or a king. We want to make it clear that all such attempts will be foiled. We are ready to shed our blood to foil conspiracies,” said Guha, who is also the Trinamul MLA of Dinhata.
The Trinamul leadership also claimed the presence of Rajbanshis and minorities in large numbers in the rally to drive home the point that the communities are with them.
In north Bengal, a number of organisations and political parties which have been raising the demand, claim to represent the Rajbanshis.
For sometime, the state BJP has been trying to shed its “pro-separatist” tag, especially because the Bengal leaders understood that blatant support for the demand for separate north Bengal state would ruin the party’s prospects in the region and across the state as a whole, considering the strong sentiment of people against any further partition of Bengal.
The BJP leaders and legislators of north Bengal have been asked to keep silent on the issue.
Leaders of Mamata Banerjee’s party, however, reasserted on Tuesday that they were not ready to give any space to the saffron brigade.
“The BJP has the hidden agenda to divide Bengal. None of its leaders can be relied on as they often resort to doublespeak. We will keep on alerting people to the BJP and its plan,” said Partha Pratim Roy, an ex-MP and former district president of Trinamul.