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BJP to contest all ZP seats in six NB districts

Manas R Bannerjee and Avijit Roy | Siliguri/Malda |

Despite resistance from alleged ruling party activists, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has managed to field candidates in all the Zilla Parishad seats in the six districts of North Bengal, a party leader has said.

Convener of the BJP in North Bengal , Rathindra Bose said party workers in six districts of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpur and Malda have been able to file nomination papers in all the seats of the upper tier.

“All the candidates are contesting against the Trinamul Congress,” Mr Bose said. BJP party sources in Alipurduar said the state leadership on Monday held a meeting in Kolkata to formulate strategies for poll campaigning. The party will also select senior leaders for area-wise campaigning across the state.

“Threats from the ruling party continue, though it is less than what it was before the withdrawal of nomination papers,” said BJP leader and MLA from the Madarihat Assembly segment, Manoj Tigga.

“The state leadership will ready a panel for election campaigning in our region. But national president Mr Amit Shah is not scheduled to visit this region for rural poll campaigning,” he added. In the Alipurduar Zilla Parishad, the BJP has fielded its candidates in all the 18 seats, he claimed.

A communist leader and an Alipurduar-based political observer said he cannot officially say anything, “but it is a fact that the main contestants are the Trinamul Congress and the BJP in the tea belt of north Bengal.” Except for a few places, voters have found the BJP as an alternative, he added.

“The voters’ trend at present is negative. There is no question of ideology among voters for extending support to the BJP. To beat the Left, the people had extended support to the Trinamul Congress. Similarly, voters have now extended support to the BJP just to beat the Trinamul,” he added.

According to the communist leader, the present trend is alarming and that the BJP may apply more powers than the Trinamul to capture power during the rural polls, by keeping in mind the looming Lok Sabha elections.

“Muslims and other minorities in this region have started joining the BJP to beat a section of the present local Trinamul leaders in the Dooars and adjoining areas,” he further claimed.

Sources said that in Cooch Behar, the main contest will be between the BJP and the Trinamul. To beat the Trinamul, the remaining vote bank of the Left has eroded and they have joined the BJP in almost all areas, including the Muslim- dominated belt.

In Malda, the BJP has been able to field its candidates in all the 38 seats for the Zilla Parishad. Four of the 38 candidates are Muslims, which also include three women. Of them, two Muslim candidates are contesting in a seat under the Malatipur Assembly Segment.

Muslim candidates are also contesting in each seat in the Manikchak Assembly segment and in the Sujapur Assembly constituency, both Muslim-dominated sectors. The BJP leadership in Malda has selected candidates belonging to the Muslim community in 20 percent of the seats.

BJP sources said that the party has been able to file nominations for 71 per cent seats in the Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti levels. Like in Madarihat in the Dooars, the BJP had opened its accounts in Malda district when Swadhin Sarkar was elected MLA from the Baishnabnagar Assembly segment in the last elections.