KOLKATA: In another attempt to regain its erstwhile citadel in Junglemahal and woo the electorate belong to the other backward classes (OBC), the ruling Trinamool Congress-led state government has given the wife of Chhatradhar Mahato, the poster boy of the Maoist-backed Lalgarh movement, a berth in the West Bengal Child Rights Commission.
A section of officials in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s administration suggested that the induction of Niyati Mahato, who has no record of working in the field of child welfare, was a political move to bring the electorate, which shifted political allegiance to the BJP in the region, back to the party fold.
"The commission has six members and five of them were inducted much before Niyati was included a week ago. She will receive around Rs 30,000 per month as remuneration and other perks," said an official of the Women, Children and Social Welfare department.
Mahato was inducted in the TMC’s state committee two months ago and has been tasked with controlling the damage that the party suffered in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP bagged all five seats in Junglemahal giving Mamata’s party an unexpected jolt.
"Niyati will serve as a member of the commission till 2013 as a member is allowed to continue for three consecutive years. A few days ago, CPI(M)’s Rajya Sabha MP Ritobroto Banerjee was inducted as a member of the commission. It appears, the commission has become a platform for political rehabilitation," said another official of the state government.
The TMC is desperate to regain its strength in Junglemahal with the support of the OBC community as they form around 35 per cent of the total electorate in the region.
TMC’s plan to use Mahato as a face representing the OBCs is likely to receive a jolt as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked him in two cases that were registered during the course of the Lalgarh movement. The central agency slapped him with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and already sought permission for his custodial interrogation in a court designated to hear the cases being pursued by the central agency.