Mamata’s North Bengal acid test

Mamata’s North Bengal acid test

Trinamool leaders in Darjeeling district are gearing up to marshal over 1 lakh people to Mamata Banerjee’s Friday rally in Siliguri against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC, the ruling party’s biggest mass-mobilisation drive since ceding ground to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The march, Trinamul insiders said, is being planned to send out a message that the party might have fared badly in the parliamentary polls, conceding defeat in all eight seats in north Bengal, but it had not lost the stomach for a resounding comeback.

“Didi is keen to make an impact with the march…. Given the fear among people about the NRC and the CAA, we think we can put together a good show,” said a Trinamul leader, adding that elaborate plans were being drawn up.

On Wednesday, Bengal tourism minister and Trinamul leader Gautam Deb visited Mallaguri, the starting point of the march in the city’s north, to oversee preparations.

“We expect over 1 lakh people at the march, with participation from both the hills and the plains. They will spontaneously attend the programme and walk with Mamata Banerjee. All necessary arrangements are being made,” Deb said.

At the rally, Trinamul wants to marshal Gorkhas in large numbers, particularly because the community had been largely cold to a BJP rally in Siliguri on December 24 in support of the CAA.

“We want to prove that the Gorkhas are not with the BJP any more and are opposing the NRC and the CAA. The BJP might have got their votes in the Lok Sabha polls but now they are against the party. This is because the names of thousands of Gorkhas are not there in the final NRC list in Assam. In Bengal too, they will face problems if the CAA is introduced,” said a Trinamul leader.

Along with the Gorkhas, Trinamul has planned to bring representatives of the Rajbanshis and tribal and minority communities to Friday’s march.

In Alipurduar and Cooch Behar, where people had voted the BJP in large numbers, many are unhappy with the party because of the exclusion of relatives from the final NRC list in neighbouring Assam although they had been living there for decades.

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