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25 Jan 2017

TMC eyes hill civic polls

AVIJIT SINHA and BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, Jan. 24: Trinamul has decided to launch "clean and green campaign" in hill municipalities with an aim to shake the foundation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and hinted a the possibility of a tie-up with any party to hammer the hill outfit in the civic polls.
"We held a meeting in the party office in Darjeeling today where leaders from all three hill subdivisions were present. It has been decided that we will launch the clean and green campaign in each civic ward of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik municipalities," Rajen Mukhia, the president of Darjeeling district (hill) Trinamul, said today.
"We have already organised the 'clean Darjeeling, green Darjeeling' campaign to keep the hills clean and to point to the pitiable state of civic services, particularly collection and disposal of garbage, when the Morcha was at the helm of the civic bodies in the past five years," he added.
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During the exercise, Mukhia said, Trinamul will collect the ward-wise data of voters and civic services.
"Back in 2011, the Morcha had won three of the four municipalities uncontested. There were elections only in five of nine seats of the Mirik municipality. However, this time, we will not let a single seat go uncontested. We are ready to enter into an understanding with any other political force, except the Morcha. Informal talks have started at different levels with some parties, including the Jan Andolan Party (floated by former Morcha MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri)," he said.
Along with the clean and green campaign, Trinamul will also start preparing a preliminary list of prospective candidates.
"It is necessary to have a clear idea of prospective candidates so that we can make plans and identify wards where we need to give more impetus. We have approached our state leaders who are accompanying the chief minister during her current trip to the hills for suggestions. Once we get to know when panchayat elections will be held in the hills, similar activities will be undertaken in rural areas also," said a Trinamul insider.
Binny Sharma, the spokesperson for Darjeeling district (hill) Trinamul, said the party would also highlight the "Morcha's failure".
"People have voted for the Morcha in a number of elections since 2007. The Morcha is running the GTA, has three MLAs and was in power at four civic bodies. However, the Morcha could not meet the expectations of hill people. On the other hand, hundreds of crores of rupees have come to the hills through development boards, along with funds provided by the state to the GTA," said Sharma.
Tomorrow afternoon, the first meeting of the newly constituted Darjeeling district committee will be held at the Kanchenjungha stadium here.
Tourism minister and Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb is expected to stress the importance of a number of second-rung leaders who were not included in the district committee and the core committee.
Sources in the party said if Deb didn't manage to keep the party united, it would deal a blow to Trinamul's bid to take control of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and the Siliguri Mahakuma parishad.

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