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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Polls leave Bengal’s Mao-land cold

Koushik Dutta, Hindustan Times  Belpahari (West Midnapore), March 15, 2014
First Published: 00:29 IST(15/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:31 IST(15/3/2014)

Strange it may sound, but the ruling Trinamool Congress – which credits itself with bringing peace in Jangalmahal, the Maoist heartland of Bengal – is fighting shy of campaigning in the area. And its bitter enemy, the CPI(M), is following its example, leaving the locals sorely perplexed.

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The HT team, which covered large parts of Midnapore district’s Belpahari and Lalgarh, couldn’t spot a single wall graffiti in the name of Uma Saren, the Trinamool nominee in the Jhargram Lok Sabha seat.

Lalgarh was the cradle for the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), the Maoist front that led to the movement in 2008-10. But after coming to power in 2011, the Mamata Banerjee-led government dealt a body blow to the rebels.

Of late, Jangalmahal has been an oasis of peace and the TMC has won high praise for its welfare projects and development work. The party not only fared well in the area in the last assembly polls, but also had a near-clean sweep in the last year’s panchayat elections.

So why is the campaign this time a non-starter? The TMC district leaders conceded to certain “organisational problems”. The candidate, Uma Saren, a doctor, is a little known face and party sources said a section of supporters were not willing to campaign for her, citing her apparent lack of experience.

The seniors are willing to wait. “There is enough time in hand. A meeting of workers will be held next week, after which we will step up the campaign,” said Nirmal Ghosh, working president of the local unit.

Quizzed on the CPI(M)’s inactivity, a party leader in Belpahari said, “We all know how the Trinamool is stepping up torture on our party leaders and cadres. But we are determined to mobilise campaign here.”


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