West Bengal panchayat election: TMC eyes BJP strongholds

Ruling Trinamool Congress is targeting the Jungle Mahal districts, where the BJP made significant inroads in 2021

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 February, 2023 9:25 pm IST
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is going all out to woo tribals

Wary about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP)’s rising influence in the state, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is changing its course and focusing on districts where the party is relatively weak.

With the panchayat elections expected to be held in March-April this year and the all-important general election next year, TMC is waking up to the fact that its prime opponent, the BJP, has made impressive inroads in the Jungle Mahal districts.

The ruling party is also analysing the reasons behind the rise of the BJP and its massive jump from three to 77 seats in the 2021 assembly poll.

The fact is, the BJP made a huge impact in the Jungle Mahal districts, especially Bankura and Purulia, in the 2021 assembly poll. TMC is well aware of this fact as they are trying to woo the voters in Jungle Mahal districts through several schemes.

On her three-day visit to West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, “There are a few people in the BJP who have been hired to incite violence in Bengal. They go to villages to provoke the Adivasis. But what has the BJP provided to the people?”

“We have given due importance in every field to Adivasis, Kurmis, Santhals and Rajbongshis,” the TMC chief said while addressing a rally in West Midnapore.

On February 17, while addressing a rally in Bankyra, CM Banerjee said, “BJP won from Bankura, yet what have they done for the people? Instead of giving us our fair share of funds, they have halted scholarships for minorities and OBCs. But one cannot stop Bengal. We have initiated the Medhashree scholarship, where every student gets ₹800 monthly.”

“Despite the centre not giving our share of dues, Bengal has given a 3 per cent dearness allowance (DA) for our state government employees,” she added.

The BJP, on the other hand, responded to the TMC by claiming that CM Banerjee has failed the state.

“To date, we have failed to understand what she meant by the centre’s deprivation. A DA must be given to the employees from the income of the state government,” BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar said.

“Why is the state government’s income not increasing? Why is CM failing to inform the public about the reason for the lack of an increase in income?” Majumdar, who is also the state BJP president, questioned.

West Bengal’s Jungle Mahal districts comprise Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore and Jhargram districts. The four districts along with eight constituencies in the northern part of Bengal account for nearly 24 per cent of the tribal vote bank.

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