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regular-article-logo Monday, 04 March 2024

Bengal polls 2021: Votes of tea workers, Rajbanshis elude TMC

According to senior Trinamul leaders, absence of a strong trade union base has led to contrasting results

Avijit Sinha Siliguri Published 04.05.21, 01:53 AM
On one hand, Trinamul insiders have said lack of a strong trade union base led to the defeat of their candidates in the tea belts of the Terai and the Dooars — barring the Malbazar seat in Jalpaiguri where the ruling party won for the second time in a row.

On one hand, Trinamul insiders have said lack of a strong trade union base led to the defeat of their candidates in the tea belts of the Terai and the Dooars — barring the Malbazar seat in Jalpaiguri where the ruling party won for the second time in a row. Shutterstock

Support of the tribal and tea garden population of north Bengal as well as Rajbanshis in the region has continued to elude the Trinamul Congress, the Assembly poll results show.

On one hand, Trinamul insiders have said lack of a strong trade union base led to the defeat of their candidates in the tea belts of the Terai and the Dooars — barring the Malbazar seat in Jalpaiguri where the ruling party won for the second time in a row.

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On the other hand, acute infighting in Trinamul in districts like Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri led to the party’s defeat in most of the seats in the Rajbanshi-dominated areas, pointed out Trinamul leaders and representatives of organisations like the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) that had lent support to Mamata Banerjee at the hustings.

“When the district president of a party and a state minister indulge in mud-slinging and fume at each other, how can you expect a better result in Cooch Behar? We have time and again tried to get them together on board but in vain,” asked Bangshibadan Burman, the GCPA general secretary who is believed to have considerable clout among the Rajbanshis. “It is because of inner differences that Trinamul could secure only two seats in Cooch Behar.”

“Why should the Rajbanshis be blamed?.”

In the neighbouring Jalpaiguri district, Trinamul won only three of seven seats. Four other seats, two each of which are in the tea belt and the Rajbanshi areas, went to the BJP.

As far as the tea belt is concerned, the BJP marched ahead of Trinamul and bagged all seats, except Malbazar. In Alipurduar and Darjeeling, which have tea gardens and Rajbanshis, Gorkhas and adivasis, Trinamul could not win any of the total 10 seats.

According to senior Trinamul leaders, absence of a strong trade union base has led to contrasting results at a time when the party has crossed the 200 mark in the state.

Mannalal Jain, the vice-president of the Cha Bagan Trinamul Mazdoor Union, said they would try to find out what made the BJP score over them.

“It is unfortunate that despite extending so many benefits to the tea population, particularly the ‘cha sundari’ (free housing) scheme for workers and even after revising wages, the majority voted for the BJP. We need to strengthen our trade union’s presence across the tea belt,” said Jain.

He pointed out that so far, the BJP had only made empty promises to the tea population. “Trinamul, on the other hand, has delivered,” added the trade union leader.

Gangaprasad Sharma, the Alipurduar district BJP president, however, came up with a different clarification.

“Trinamul had tried to play identity politics in north Bengal and came up with sops and announcements for different communities. We, on the other hand, have spoken for the entire population. This is why people stood by us,” he said.

Additional reporting by Anirban Choudhury in Alipurduar, and Main Uddin Chisti in Cooch Behar

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