Eyes on North Bengal, TMC’s Abhishek to begin yatra for panchayat polls

Under this campaign, Banerjee will travel across every district in West Bengal for 60 days, starting from Cooch Behar on April 25 and ending at Kakdwip.

| Updated: 24 April, 2023 5:23 pm IST
Abhishek Banerjee will interact with the masses and bring the 'grassroot party members together.' (File photo)

New Delhi: Amid speculations that the panchayat poll could be postponed, TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee will launch a new campaign ‘Trinamoole Nabo Jowar’ on Tuesday to connect with people at the grassroots.

Under this campaign, Banerjee will travel across every district in West Bengal for 60 days, starting from Coochbehar on April 25 and ending at Kakdwip. During this campaign, Banerjee will interact with the masses and bring the ‘grassroot party members together.’

“The goal of this campaign is to constitute a people’s panchayat. During my public meetings over the past year, I have reiterated that panchayat polls will be conducted in a democratic, free, fair, and peaceful manner,” he told a news conference.

He also said that in the Indian political scenario, decisions regarding candidates for elections across various levels are taken behind closed doors through centralization of power and based on the recommendations of district and block leadership. This campaign aims to take the opinion of the people while selecting the candidates.

On Monday evening, Abhishek performed puja at a temple in Cooch Behar.

Banerjee, who is nephew of CM Mamata Banerjee, said: “With the launch of this campaign on April 25, we are going a step further and taking people’s opinions into account while selecting the candidates.”

The two-month-long ‘Jono Sanjog Yatra’ would begin from Coochbehar, which is a stronghold of the BJP and is dominated by the Koch Rajbangshi community of North Bengal, the largest scheduled caste group in the state.

However, TMC has tried to shrug off the popular opinion behind Banerjee’s choice for starting the yatra. “Abhishek Banerjee does not believe in North vs South Bengal comparison whereas BJP works to divide Bengal,” said TMC spokesperson Pradipta Mukherjee, who teaches political science.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders have raised doubts about the impact of Banerjee’s yatra on the voters.

“Is this Jono Sanjog Yatra or TMC’s Abhishek Yatra? Jono Sanjog Yatra should be about reaching people sans police security. Does he have this capability? Biman Bose embarked on the Jono Sangoj Yatra from Coochbehar to Kolkata when he was twice of Abhishek’s age. Helicopter, well decorated bus, corporate tents, security, police force – it looks like a king’s affair,” CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakroborty told The New Indian.

Political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said TMC’s yatra is organized, involves a significant amount of money and administration.

“It can help the party at the lower levels but I am not sure if it will help satisfy voters,” he said.

Interestingly, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has recently completed his countrywide ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, which has elevated his public image as a more serious public figure.

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