KOLKATA: A day after Chhatradhar Mahato, the face of Lalgarh movement spearheaded by the Maoists, was given a berth in the state committee of Trinamool Congress, investigators from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) landed in Junglemahal to investigate two cases against him.
These cases were registered against Mahato 11 years ago and were handed over to the agency five months ago. The NIA has set up a camp office at Salbani and served a notice to Mahato asking him to appear before it.
Mahato alleged that NIA’s move was politically motivated and a conspiracy against him. The BJP had bagged all four Lok Sabha seats in the region in 2019.
According to some political leaders, Mahato’s inclusion in ruling party is aimed at winning back the votes of the other backward class (OBC) people who shifted their allegiance to the saffron camp in the Lok Sabha polls.
Mahato belongs to the OBC community which forms a considerable chunk of vote share in Junglemahal. The two cases, lodged against Mahato in 2009, were handed to NIA in last February and April, shortly after he was released from the jail.
“Mahato was one of the accused in a murder case related to the murder of a CPI(M) supporter in Lalgarh,’’ said an NIA officer. Mahato was also accused in a case related to the hijacking of a Rajdhani Express train and abduction of its driver in Jhargram. “The accused had demanded the immediate release of Mahato from jail,’’ the officer said.
The OBC connection
TMC’s aim is to win back OBC voters via Chhatradhar Mahato. These voters have shifted their allegiance to BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.