Buoyed by Trinamul’s electoral victories on Sunday, party leaders have started preparing the ground in Darjeeling, the only district in Bengal where it has repeatedly drawn a blank.
Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee on Sunday won the Bhowanipore bypoll with a victory margin of 58,832, bettering her 2011 margin of 54,213. Her party candidates from Jangipur and Samserganj seats also won comfortably.
Darjeeling is the only district where Trinamul failed to win a single Assembly seat in the 2021 polls. Since 2011, the party has neither been able to form a civic board nor take control of the rural body in the district, except Mirik municipality in 2018.
Mirik is set for polls in the next six months. Elections to the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and the Siliguri Mahukama Parishad (rural polls) are due as the tenure of these two bodies expired more than a year ago.
However, Darjeeling Trinamul leaders are hopeful that the party will see a turnaround. “We are working to turn the tide this time round. We are confident that today’s victories will rub off in the upcoming elections in the district,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
Trinamul leaders maintained leaders and supporters from other parties are making a beeline to join the party but they were treading cautiously.
Papiya Ghosh, the president of Darjeeling district Trinamul, said they received applications from over 10,000 people wanting to join Trinamul. “We have received application from over 10,000 people from different political parties wanting to join us but we have decided not to induct anyone without scrutiny from the grassroots,” said Ghosh.
Last month, the party started scrutinising the antecedents of those wanting to join Trinamul from the block level. A policy decision has also been taken not to induct new members for at least a month during which time a thorough scrutiny of applications will be done.
Sources in Trinamul said that in the past four months, five former SMC councillors from the Left and two from the Congress joined the party.
“We have received requests from other councillors in the Left, but have received instructions from the highest level that without the consent of workers of the respective ward or block, no one will be inducted,” a Trinamul insider said.
Sources said the decision has been taken not to anger hardworking grassroots supporters and avoid people who seek to join the ruling party for personal interest. Also, apart from district president, chairperson and spokesperson, no other leader will be allowed to speak to the media or host induction programmes for the sake of “party discipline”.
“The decision has been taken to carry out party activities in a disciplined manner,” Ghosh said.