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3 May 2017

TMC brass makes beeline for hills ahead of municipality polls

EOI, DARJEELING ,2 May 2017: The Trinamool Congress leadership is not leaving things to chance, and on directives from Kolkata, senior party leaders have started camping in the hills to ensure maximum impact before the four civic bodies go to the polls on May 14.
Tourism minister Gautab Deb arrived today in Darjeeling and will stay put till May 12. Meanwhile, Rabindranath Ghosh, the North Bengal Development Department minister, who was stationed in Kurseong for the last three days, was replaced immediately by Nantu Pal, commissioner of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, today.
The TMC concentrating in Darjeeling and Kurseong stems from the fact that it is wary of its organisational weakness as well as support base in these two municipalities. However, the party seems to be confident of its presence in the two remaining places: Kalimpong, which became a new district in February, and Mirik, which was converted into a sub-division in March by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Many feel these two developments will be advantageous for the TMC in the civic election.
Doing the rounds of the wards in Darjeeling today, the tourism minister exchanged pleasantries with voters with folded hands. He was accompanied by party candidates contesting the election and local senior leaders. “We are confident of victory in all the four municipalities. People want “paribartan” (change) and development, which are our agenda for the civic polls,” said Deb in ward 20 of Darjeeling municipality.
Not surprisingly, the minister did not forget to play the “Didi” card given the party’s lack of local faces. “Our chief minister loves the hills and the people here. She wants to develop the hills which is why she has frequented the region on 70 occasions over the past six years.
She has formed development boards for the development of various ethnic communities. No one has done so much for the hills before,” Deb said.
On questions of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha labelling the municipal election as Bengal against the Gorkhaland demand, Deb said, “It is all rubbish. Their (GJM) leaders only threaten to agitate or resign for a separate state during elections. People have become wary of the GJM's tactics and will give a befitting reply in the election."
The minister alleged the GJM had failed to work for the people. “The state government has given crores of rupees to develop the hills, but the GJM has not worked in the last five years. In fact, it is the state government that has undertaken various development projects to boost the economy and tourism sector of the region,” he said.
The TMC is in a seat-sharing alliance with the Gorkha National Liberation Front and has formulated a strategy in the four civic bodies to take on the GJM. The Jan Andolan Party, a former alliance partner of the TMC, has chosen to fight it alone citing ideological differences.
This could have a bearing in the TMC's prospects in Kalimpong.
The Trinamool has also roped in Avisekh Banerjee, the AITMC youth president, Firhad Hakkim, urban development and municipal affairs minister and Aroop Biswas, the state PWD minister, who is also the observer for the party in the hills, to campaign for its candidates on May 6 in Darjeeling and Kurseong. 

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