Trinamul Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee has said he will extend his support to the Kurmis who have been agitating for the Scheduled Tribe status if the community can prevent BJP leaders from entering their areas.
Abhishek who was addressing a rally in Purulia’s Balarampur on Wednesday night as part of Trinamuley Nabo Jowar (New High Tide in Trinamul) said although the state government had been in favour of the demand of the Kurmi community since 2017, a section of them had helped the BJP win in that area.
“Our government passed a resolution (in the Assembly) and sent it (to Delhi) in 2017, a section of my Kurmi brothers, provoked, voted for the BJP.... Now if you vow not to allow any BJP leader into Purulia, I would extend my support to you. I will ensure I stand shoulder to shoulder with you,” said Abhishek.
The comment of the Diamond Harbour MP assumes significance after he was stopped by Kurmi protestors at three places in Bankura, earlier this week, while travelling to attend a party programme there.
At one of the three points, the nephew of the chief minister had to come out of his car and listened to some 200 protesters for around 30 minutes about their demand for ST status. A senior Trinamul leader said Abhishek had rightly addressed the Kurmi community people who had apparently played a major role in winning BJP candidates from the Jungle Mahal districts in Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore.
The BJP won five out of six Lok Sabha seats in 2019, with leads in 31 of the 40 Assembly segments, in the Jungle Mahal. But the saffron camp slumped to victories in only 16 of the 40 Assembly seats in 2021.
“The mission to weed out the BJP from the Jungle Mahal is only possible if Trinamul gains the support of the Kurmi community. So, Abhishek attempted to win over the community by the assurance of extending support with the condition to put an end to the BJP’s growth,” said a Trinamul leader.
Kurmi leaders said they are not ready to accept any support from Abhishek as the battle for the ST tag is a lone fight of the community. They also reminded Abhishek that the state government did not send a proper justification report from its Cultural Research Institute (CRI) to Delhi, essential to get the ST tag.