Both the CPI-M and TMC election candidates for the Siliguri Assembly Constituency, Asok Bhattacharya and Om Prakash Mishra, respectively, released their party’s manifesto here today.

As Professor Mishra highlighted Mamata Banerjee’s Universal Basic Minimum Programme that finds mention in her party’s manifesto, Mr Bhattacharya has focused on the party’s proposal for the development of Siliguri by demanding national status to the town, and bettering the basic facilities, including a drinking water project.

The BJP, on the other hand, is yet to make public its manifesto. Sources said that the state BJP leadership would publish the same on 21 March by highlighting the ‘Sonar Bangla’ slogan. Addressing the Press, Professor Mishra today also pointed out how his party chief Mamata Banerjee had maintained ‘promise’ and ‘performance’ in the last 10 years and prepared the manifesto for the next five years by highlighting several unique welfare schemes.

Notably, the party has highlighted some programmes, including Students’ Credit Card for education up to Rs 10 Lakh at 5 percent interest. Meanwhile, following the official announcement of his candidature BJP candidate Shankar Ghosh, a communist activist for the last 30 years, has started campaigning by adopting the BJP culture.

“Siliguri-based intellectuals are critically discussing (criticising) Mr Ghosh as he offered prayers at the Ram Sita temple and other temples during campaigning immediately after joining the saffron brigade,” an observer said today.

While CPIM candidate Asok Bhattacharya campaigned in a simple manner by visiting narrow lanes and reaching out to the downtrodden and working class of people in Ward 18 under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Mr Ghosh, a former disciple of Mr Bhattacharya, also met the people, accompanied by Siliguri district organizational president of the BJP Praveen Agarwal and team members, including a group of drummers (dhaki).

Also today, the BJP officially felicitated four of its candidates-Shankar Ghosh (Siliguri), Shikha Chatterjee (Dabgram Fulbari), Anandamoy Barman (Matigara-Naxalbari) and Durga Murmu (Phansidewa). All four candidates campaigned today by offering prayers in different temples in the morning.

The ‘Sanyukta Morcha’ candidate for Siliguri, Mr Bhattacharya said he take all possible initiatives for the development of Siliguri if he was re-elected. According to him, he would seek approval for a comprehensive drinking water project in the town. He also alleged that the state government had ignored the proposals for the project.

“When the initiative was taken for the project, the population of the town was around 3.50 lakh, but now the population has gone up to 7 lakh. But it did not see the light of the day as the state government ignored the necessity of the town and shifted the project,” Mr Bhattacharya said.

He said a flyover was necessary at Darjeeling More, Mallaguri More to ease the traffic congestion there. Mr Bhattacharya also raised the longpending demand for the completion of the Mahananda Action Plan. He said the sewerage system of Fuleshwari and Jorapani rivulets could not be started because of noncompletion of the plan.

The ‘Sanyukta Morcha’ of the Left, Congress and Indian secular Front published pamphlets in the presence of Left Front and Congress leaders today in support of Mr Bhattacharya.

The pamphlets highlight his 11 “focus areas” including an end to the alleged discrimination of the Centre and the state government when it came to Siliguri, joboriented industrialization, economic activities, land rights for people who have been residing on railway and other land belonging to the Centre for a long time.

“Siliguri is an important town not only on the point of its economic and commercial activities, but on its strategic location and connectivity. It should be declared as an important national town,” Mr Bhattacharya said.