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27 Mar 2017

Mamata to woo both hills and plains

Bicycles, to be distributed among school students under the Sabooj Sathi scheme of the state government, being arranged at the Sport Complex Ground in Jalpaiguri on Sunday, ahead of Mamata Banerjee’s visit. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Siliguri, March 26: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will arrive here tomorrow, with a mixed bag of "gifts" for north Bengal.
She is slated to declare Mirik as a subdivision and host a meeting of tribal advisory development council and announce development projects for adivasis in north Bengal.
The reason: the coming civic polls in the hills, followed by rural elections scheduled for next year.
During her recent trips to north Bengal, Mamata had focussed either on the hills or the plains. But this time, the chief minister is coming with "gifts" for both the hills and plains.
"It is indeed significant because during her past visits to north Bengal, she had straightway gone to the hills and made some major announcements, including formation of new development boards and Kalimpong district," a Trinamul leader based in Siliguri said.
During those visits, what the plains of north Bengal got were some infrastructure projects, which were inaugurated through remote control.
This time, the leader pointed out, Mamata has something for both the hills and the plains.
"This is because there has been discontentment among people in the plains and a section of Trinamul supporters who said that the state government is giving extra care to the hills. That is why during the next visit, the chief minister will spend time both in the hills and the plains. Our principal agenda for any poll is development. Along with the civic polls in the hills which are drawing near, we need to give equal importance to the plains as rural polls will be held next year," the Trinamul leader said.
In fact, during the five-day trip, Mamata will go to the hills only for one day, that is on March 30, when she will announce Mirik as the new subdivision of .
It is a longstanding demand of the residents of Mirik town and the Mirik block as a whole. There are some areas near Bagdogra which are under the block and people need to travel for around 50km to reach the subdivisional headquarters in Kurseong.
"Once the new subdivision is formed, it would largely help these people. Darjeeling district will again have three subdivisions in the hills. The number has come down to two (Kurseong and Darjeeling) after Kalimpong subdivision was upgraded to a district," an administrative official said.
While the hill residents will get another gift - after the Kalimpong district - ahead of the civic polls, Mamata, who heads the tribal advisory development council of the state, is also likely to make some major decisions for the adivasis of north Bengal.
"She will hold a meeting of the council tomorrow. In the recent past, no such meeting was held to discuss and decide on matters pertaining to socio-economic development of tribal people," said a Trinamul insider in Jalpaiguri.
Adivasis form a considerable portion of the rural vote bank in north Bengal districts like Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Darjeeling and even Malda and South Dinajpur.
"The state has done a lot for the tribal people by including them in different social security schemes and other projects. As the rural polls are scheduled for next year, we cannot ignore these areas," the Trinamul leader said.
On March 28, the chief minister will hand over assistance to several beneficiaries and will introduce NBSTC buses with bio-toilets and mobile medical vans.
"In the past four-five months, the chief minister hasn't toured the plains of north Bengal. Her focus was more on the hills because her party emerged as the principal political contender of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, with development as the agenda," an observer said.
Now, observers said, Mamata intends to keep parity between the hills and plains.

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