West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will lead the campaign in the Congress strongholds during the ensuing panchayat elections in early 2013. She will lead the Trinamool Congress campaign in the green belt in North Bengal, which has always voted for the Congress.
Mamata has earmarked Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury’s bastion, Murshidabad, MP Deepa Dasmunshi’s base, North Dinajpur, and the late ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s home turf, Malda, now represented by MPs AH Khan Chowdhury and Mausam Benazir Noor, as the eye of her campaign blitz against the Congress.
Under Mamata’s leadership, the Congress will also face the heat in Purulia, Birbhum, North 24 Parganas and Nadia, where the Congress is trying to reorganise itself. “I believe, with Mamata, herself, leading the campaign against the Congress, they would face serious trouble. Trinamool expects a landslide victory and the decimation of the Congress in many districts,” said state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee.
Mamata’s campaign is going to focus on the fact that despite receiving no funds from the UPA-II government for the development of rural and semiurban areas, she has been proactive with her limited resources.
“The UPA government allowed the Left Front Government to get away without accounting for expenditures of central rural funds, but no rural development has taken place in 34 years,” Mamata told her party.
The impact of UPA-II Government’s policy to implement FDI in multi-brand retail would hit farmers and small rural traders. “Our party will highlight this anti-people policy,” added Mamata.
However, state Congress leaders believe Mamata is in no position to oppose FDI in multibrand retail because in 2009 parliamentary elections, the Trinamool manifesto wanted the elimination of middlemen from the soil-to-the-market trade route.
“Now Mamata Banerjee’s is denying such inclusion. But we and the election commission have got the original copies of the 2009 poll manifesto and we will distribute it among the people,” said PCC vice president Debabrata Basu.
Congress in their election campaigns will also defend the Centre’s decision to hike diesel price by Rs 5, for it has helped the Centre to collect Rs 1.87 lakh crore which will be used to implement its populist food security programme for the people living below the poverty line.
“The government would soon pass the food security bill. This will be a huge success and reflect in our votes. It will be a winner like the UPA-I’s policy to waive loans for the farmers,” said Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury.
PCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya said, though Mamata’s popularity in rural Bengal is intact, she will not succeed in penetrating the Congress bastions in the panchayat polls.
“Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Malda will remain with the Congress. Trinamool on its own cannot form the zilla parishads there,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.