TMC leaders flock to Assam to campaign for panchayat polls
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TMC leaders flock to Assam to campaign for panchayat polls

The move is believed to be an attempt by Mamata Banerjee’s party to test the waters in Assam before the Lok Sabha elections.

cities Updated: Dec 04, 2018 14:39 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
TMC,Trinamool Congress,TMC Assam
Trinamool Congress leaders MP Derek O'Brien and Mamata Bala Thakur meet the family members of those who were killed by suspected ULFA militants, at Dhola in Tinsukia district of Assam on Nov 4, 2018. (PTI file photo)

The Trinamool Congress, which is contesting panchayat polls in Assam slated December 5 and 9 for the first time, has dispatched ministers and MPs to launch a full-blown campaign in the neighbouring state. TC ministers and MPs are already in Assam.

The move is believed to be an attempt by Mamata Banerjee’s party to test the waters in Assam before the Lok Sabha elections.

The Bengal chief minister has been a vocal critic of the citizenship screening exercise in Assam. It is also her party’s main pitch in the state, where more than 4 million names were left out of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) released on July 31.

“We are in the fray for 179 zilla parishad seats in Assam. Our chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already announced that our party will contest from some parliamentary constituencies in Assam next year too. So we are treating the forthcoming rural polls as a semi-final match,” said Bengal state food & supplies minister, Jyotipriyo Mullick.

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The campaign started on December 2, when Trinamool Lok Sabha MPs Satabdi Roy, Mamata Thakur, minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury and others took part in three election rallies in the Kamrup-Malibari area in Assam.

“On December 4, Bengal tourism minister Goutam Deb, north Bengal development minister Rabindra Nath Ghosh and Trinamool legislatorSourav Chakraborty will also campaign in Assam for the second phase of polls,” Mullick said.

“The people are quite enthusiastic. We are requesting them to stand by Mamata Banerjee to drive out the BJP from power in 2019,” said Roy.

Mamata Thakur is the face of the 4-5 million strong scheduled caste Matua community in Bengal, most of whom migrated from Bangladesh and are aggrieved with the NRC. “The people in Assam were agitated by the citizenship screening exercise. We conveyed our chief minister’s message that besides the names of 4 million Bengalis, names of many Biharis, too, were deleted from the final draft. We appealed to them for support since Mamata Banerjee, too, is opposing the exercise.”

Siddiqullah Chowdhury said that Bengali-dominated areas in Assam such as Tinsukia, Silchar and Kamrup-Malibari were most enthusiastic about the Trinamool Congress.

According to the 2011 census, 28.92% of the 31.1 million population of Assam speaks Bengali.

All senior BJP leaders including party president Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal have alleged that the Trinamool chief is trying to divide the people of Assam.

However, the panchayat polls are not the first elections the Trinamool is contesting in Assam. It had contested from a couple of assembly constituencies in 2016.

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First Published: Dec 04, 2018 14:39 IST