KOLKATA: With the possibility of Chhatradhar Mahato joining Trinamool Congress looking extremely likely, the political equation in Bengal’s Jungalmahal that witnessed BJP’s aggressive onslaught in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, is expected to take a turn as the ruling party is planning to use the former spokesperson of a Maoist-backed organisation as its trump card.
The ruling party is planning to bring back the votes of Kurmi community comprising Mahatos which forms 35% of the total electorate in its fold by projecting Mahato, a popular face of Maoist-backed Lalgarh movement, as its leader in Jhargram district.
The party said the inclusion of Mahato in Trinamool family will also help to get tribals’ support who form 28% of the total electorate.
Mahato was arrested in 2009 on the charges of attacking former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy in November 2008 and he was booked under severe Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections and UAPA. Mahato was acquitted and released from jail last week. “Voters belonging to backward classes shifted their political allegiance to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls causing a massive a jolt to our ambitions. We lost Jhargram seat which our party won with the highest margin in the state in 2014 elections. Chatradhar’s inclusion will also deliver a message to the electors in Purulia and Bankura districts,’’ said a senior Trinamool leader.
The Trinamool Congress bagged Jhargram seat with a margin of 3.48 lakh votes in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP snatched the seat with a margin of around 12,000 votes in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Trinamool’ secretary-general Partha Chatterjee visited Jhargram on February 8 and held a meeting with party leaders to gauge the ground-level mood if Mahato joins the party. “If Mahato joins our party, there is nothing to be unhappy with. He has a huge mass base among the Kurmis and tribals. If he joins the party it will make a huge difference in the 2021 Assembly elections in Jungle Mahal,’’ Chatterjee said.
When contacted, Chatradhar said, ‘’Let the Trinamool place an offer.’’