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10 Jun 2017

Scent of advantage Trinamul

Mamata in Darjeeling on Friday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
AVIJIT SINHA and VIVEK CHHETRI, June 9: The state government's promptness in helping tourists caught in the turmoil in Darjeeling has brought dividends for Trinamul across the state, claim party leaders.
The consistent efforts that Mamata has put to prove her seriousness in protecting the tourism industry - a major source of earning of the hill people other than tea - and her decision to move around in the hill town to boost the confidence of thousands of stranded tourists and the local people has left the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on backfoot.
That the hill party is worried as to how it can politically tackle Trinamul's emergence is obvious from the remarks of Bimal Gurung today that the Morcha would "have to" carry out the agitation for separate statehood.
"The manner in which the chief minister has taken the initiative to help tourists as well as local people who were equally perturbed over the sudden violence has sent a positive message. It has become clear to the hill people that the chief minister is extremely serious in protecting the tourism industry. They have also realised that it is the Morcha which is working against the growth of the tourism sector for political interests," Binny Sharma, the spokesperson for Darjeeling district (hill) Trinamul, said today.
Trinamul insiders said people associated with the tourism sector were unhappy with the Morcha after yesterday's clash.
They pointed out that Morcha leaders had said tourists should immediately leave the hills in case of a flare-up.
"That means loss for the local population. On the other hand, Mamata was roaming around in Darjeeling today, defying the strike and promising that normalcy would be restored in the hills. The chief minister even assured some tourists, who wanted to stay back in Darjeeling, that they had no reason to worry and could enjoy their holidays. Such contrasting approach would surely have a positive impact for our party in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts," a Trinamul leader said.
Mamata's move to personally oversee the post-violence situation is expected help Trinamul reap dividends in other parts of the state also.
"There are several youths who belong to neighbouring districts and the foothills and are associated with tourism sector. Tourists, both from within the state and outside, have seen the chief minister's move to tackle the crisis. It is obvious that such things would boost Mamata's image," an observer said.
The Morcha chief, however, puts up a "brave face" and claimed that there had been no erosion in his support base.
Observers said the Morcha leadership could up the ante on the statehood as there was a perception that the government would mount pressure on the party from different sides.
"Like in the civic polls, the government will pursue an agenda to garner votes ahead of the GTA elections. But this time, there is more pressure on the Morcha as some other hill parties have already questioned the Morcha's sincerity in achieving Gorkhaland," said the observer.
The hill Trinamul leaders, who also foresee the pressure on the Morcha, have demanded that the special audit team that will go through the accounts of the GTA also carry out "on spot verifications".
"We think there are serious financial anomalies. That is why we want the team to visit the sites and check whether the projects of the GTA justify the utilisation of funds. We would urge the state to take this initiative as it would expose the Morcha's corruption," the hill Trinamul's spokesperson said.
This is yet another political move of Trinamul to corner the Morcha, a political analyst said.
"Ahead of the GTA elections, Trinamul is trying to use the audit report as a tool to attack the Morcha. It is clear that if any anomaly is found in any project, it would be easier for Trinamul to score over the Morcha in a particular area," he said.

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