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Mission Jharkhand for TMC lieutenants

The move is in keeping with the Trinamul chief’s plans to find pastures for Bengal’s ruling party in other states

By Abhijeet Chatterjee in Asansol(Bengal)

  • Published 26.12.18, 3:12 AM
  • Updated 26.12.18, 3:44 AM
Tiwari at a rally in Jharkhand’s Jamtara.
Tiwari at a rally in Jharkhand’s Jamtara. Santosh Kumar Mandal

Trinamul has launched a campaign in Jharkhand highlighting the Mamata Banerjee government’s “achievements” to build a platform ahead of next year’s general election for contesting in a few seats in the BJP-ruled state.

The move is in keeping with the Trinamul chief’s plans to find pastures for Bengal’s ruling party in other states.

Trinamul has formed a 50-member committee in Jharkhand, with former Congress leader Ashok Singh as state chief. The panel is being overseen by Bengal minister Aroop Biswas and Asansol mayor Jitendra Kumar Tiwari. The aim is to build a campaign and negotiate with non-BJP parties in Jharkhand for seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha polls. Jharkhand Assembly polls are also due in late 2019.

“We have been holding meetings highlighting Mamata Banerjee’s success in protecting tribal land and initiating development in Bengal. We have been getting a positive response. The people there are unhappy with the BJP and are looking for an alternative,” said Tiwari.

At a Trinamul meeting last month, Mamata had asked senior leaders to explore northeastern and other eastern states, including Jharkhand, besides Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. She had entrusted the responsibility for Jharkhand to Biswas and Tiwari. Senior Trinamul leaders Suvendu Adhikari, Shantiram Mahato, Moloy Ghatak and Arjun Singh were asked to help Biswas and Tiwari.

With no base in Jharkhand, Trinamul has been looking at inorganic growth — defections from other parties.

Earlier this week, over 300 workers from various parties, including the BJP, in Jamtara joined Trinamul in the presence of Tiwari.

Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand, the BJP had won 12 and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) two in 2014. In the Assembly polls that year, the BJP and ally AJSU had won 47 of the 81 seats, the JMM 19, Congress nine and others six.

“We have deployed two observers for each of the 24 districts in Jharkhand to spread the message of our party,” said Tiwari.

Trinamul has also been taking up local issues, such as anger among para-teachers not paid for months and an agitation for payment of compensation to tribals who gave up land for a reservoir of the Damodar Valley Corporation at Maithan, Tiwari said.

Asked about adjustments with non-BJP parties, Tiwari said discussions were on and the final decision would be taken by Mamata.

Sources said Trinamul, being a newbie in Jharkhand, would accept one to two Lok Sabha seats out of the 14.

“The main aim to uproot the BJP from the Centre. If there is no adjustment, we will contest all 14 seats,” said a Trinamul insider.

“The Lok Sabha polls are a warm-up for the Assembly elections. If we play our cards right, we could have 10-odd MLAs there next year,” the leader added.