BJP makes a mark in former Maoist belt of Bengal
BJP has captured panchayats at Binpur, Belatikri, Sijua and Ramgarh — all in Lalgarh area where the Maoists had carved out ‘a state within a state’ during 2009-2010.kolkata Updated: May 19, 2018 19:31 IST
The BJP is making its mark in the former Maoist belt of Jangalmahal in West Bengal despite overwhelming dominance of the ruling Trinamool Congress, which had routed the Left front in May 2011.
BJP came a close second to Trinamool Congress in this tribal dominated region. Till 6:30 pm, its victories in Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura districts accounted for nearly 40% of the total seats that the party won across the state.
Dealing West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee a rude shock in an area she has been sensitive about, the saffron camp bagged 626 seats against Trinamool’s 748, in Purulia, till 6 pm.
Of the 780 gram panchayat seats in Jhargram where contests took place, BJP won 321.
Sukhamay Satpathy, BJP’s Jhargram district president said they had campaigned saying that “those who had terrorised the area as Maoists were now ruling the area as Trinamool”.
“Moreover, Trinamool’s corruption, nepotism and highhandedness had left the ground fertile for a surge against this regime,” he said.
Sankrail in Jhargram, which hit the headlines in 2009 when Maoists abducted the officer in-charge after killing two policemen during an attack on the police station, saw a saffron surge with BJP registering convincing victories in all three tiers.
Bhimpur panchayat within Salboni panchayat samiti area in West Midnapore district was a stronghold of the Maoists.
The panchayat’s chief during 2008-2013, who was often accused of hobnobbing with Maoists, was elected as Salboni MLA in 2011 and 2016.
Now, Trinamool has been routed in Bhimpur, as BJP bagged 9 out of 12 seats. Of the total 10 gram panchayats in Salboni, BJP has bagged four.
“It appears there were public grievances against lower-level workers of our party,” Srikanta Mahato said.
BJP has also captured the panchayats at Binpur, Belatikri, Sijua and Ramgarh — all in Lalgarh area where the Maoists had carved out ‘a state within a state’ during 2009-2010. The party has also wrested the panchayats in erstwhile Maoists hotbeds of Pingboni, Jirapara, Makli and Amlashuli.
Asked why the party fared so poorly in what was considered one of its strongest bastions, Trinamool’s West Midnapore district president, Ajit Maiti disconnected the phone.