KOLKATA: Despite ruling Trinamool Congress sweeping the panchayat elections of West Bengal, BJP has made its mark in the tribal-dominated regions of the state by outperforming TMC in many segments in the west and northern parts of the state.
While the green storm has uprooted opposition in most of the state, lotus bloomed in tribal-dominated segments in Jhargram, Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur, Birbhum, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.
West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has hailed this as a ‘beginning of downfall’ of TMC. “Mamata Banerjee rode to power with the support of the tribals after the Lalgarh agitation. Now, they have become vexed and are supporting us. Also, we had strengthened our organisational strength in the tribal areas by nominating youths to the leadership positions,” he said.
However, the West Bengal Chief Minister refused to buy this argument and blamed BJP’s results on saffron cadres from neighbouring BJP-ruled states. “BJP cadres from Jharkhand and Assam entered Purulia, Jhargram and Alipurduar districts and unleashed terror on the masses with the aid of the Maoists active in Jharkhand,” she said.
TMC secretary Partha Chatterjee said the party will study the reasons about its lackluster performance in the tribal-dominated regions. “We will look into why our performance was relatively bad in tribal-dominated areas,” he said.
All erstwhile Maoist-dominated Gram Panchayats Lalgarh, Belpahari, Jamboni, Gopiballavpur, Nayagram and Sankrail of Jhargram district have been bagged by BJP. In another formerly LWE-affected Purulia, BJP won all Gram Panchayats in Balarampur area and in Sarenga and Raipur areas of Bankura district.
“We will not be satisfied until forming government in the state but we are also not unhappy with our overall performance in this panchayat election. But, this result has come at a terrible cost. A total of 65 people have died in violence during this panchayat election in which BJP has lost 19 people. Only BJP can save democracy in the state,” Dilip Ghosh added.
Anti-power grid agitators win in Bhangar
On the other hand, five of the nine candidates fielded by CPI (ML) Red Star supported Jomi Jibika, Poribesh or Bastutantra Raksha Samiti (Committee for protection of land, livelihood, environment and ecology) defeated TMC candidates in Gram Panchayats of Bhangar II block of South 24 Parganas. The region has been witness to pitched battles between residents opposed to an upcoming power grid and TMC cadres of local strongman Arabul Islam allegedly trying to force the project on the locals. In the wake of alleged threats from TMC cadres, the nine applicants of the committee had submitted their nominations through WhatsApp.