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20 May 2017

5 reasons Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is celebrating Mirik civic poll win

Mamata BanerjeePramod Giri, HT, Siliguri: The most significant of the Trinamool Congress’ four victories in the West Bengal civic body elections is the hill municipality of Mirik. The state’s ruling party won six of the nine wards and chief minister Mamata Banerjee devoted special attention to Mirik, calling it the beginning of a new era in the hills. Here’s why the win is important:
1. Trinamool Congress became the first party from the plains in 30 years to win in the hills. It’s the first victory of a non-ethnic party that is against Gorkhaland, the separate state demanded by hill parties.
2. It will pave the way for the expansion of Mamata Banerjee’s party before the election of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) that is the autonomous body in charge of the north Bengal hills. The polls to the 42-member GTA will take place later this year.
3. It is also an electoral validation for the development programme of Banerjee, who visited the hills dozens of times in the past few years and deployed many heavyweight ministers in Mirik. Banerjee also trounces the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that has bitterly opposed her.
4. Banerjee’s masterstroke of announcing land patta (land rights) to the inhabitants of Mirik municipality contributed to the Trinamool victory. In seven wards out of nine, many house owners don’t have land rights.
5. Earlier this year, Banerjee also upgraded Mirik from a block to a subdivision, as a result of which residents don’t need to travel to the subdivision town (earlier it was Kurseong about three hours away) for various administrative work.

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