TT, Siliguri, Feb. 21: BJP leaders in Siliguri today demanded that the civic and rural boards here pass resolutions over the demand of a separate Siliguri district in the coming board meetings.
So far as the demand for separate Siliguri district is concerned, the BJP is the first political party to raise it simultaneously with Brihattar Siliguri Nagarik Mancha, an apolitical body of Siliguri residents, on February 13, a day ahead of the formal announcement of forming a separate Kalimpong district.
On February 14, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had made the formal announcement at a government function at the Mela Ground in Kalimpong.
Abhijit Roy Chowdhury, a general secretary of Siliguri (organisational) district of the BJP, had raised the demand then. It was followed by the district Congress leaders who, in a formal manner, backed the demand on Saturday.
Today, Pravin Agarwal, the BJP president of Siliguri (organisational) district, said: "We support the demand of a separate Siliguri district. Siliguri and its surroundings have around 11 lakh voters and most of them have to travel to Darjeeling or Jalpaiguri for administrative works. Also, from Bidhannagar (the extreme point of Darjeeling district that is close to North Dinajpur), it takes around five hours to reach the district headquarters in Darjeeling," Agarwal said.
He also demanded that the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad boards pass a resolution in support of the demand. "We have two councillors at the SMC. They will raise the demand at the coming board meeting," the BJP leader said.
Both the SMC and the SMP boards are run by the Left, which is yet to take a concrete stand on the issue.
Asok Bhattacharya, the mayor and the MLA of Siliguri, had said he didn't find anything illogical in the demand.
There is silence in the Trinamul camp as well. None of the leaders based in Siliguri and surroundings, including tourism minister and Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb, have spoken on the issue as yet.
The BJP leaders, while speaking at a news conference, said the party would take up extensive campaign in the urban and rural belts by distributing leaflets among residents. "After the Madhyamik and higher secondary exams are over, we will also launch a mass signature campaign and send the signatures to the governor and the chief minister through the SDO. The state has formed a separate Kalimpong district that has only one Assembly seat and three police stations. It cannot ignore the demand of Siliguri residents," Agarwal said.