Despite her busy schedule in national politics, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to visit Kalimpong in May, and if sources are to be believed, she has “multiple objectives,” including indirect campaigning for rural polls in north Bengal.
An official source said Miss Banerjee, after her successful visit to Darjeeling for the Hill Business Summit, plans to hold another programme, this time in association with development boars, including the Lepcha Development Board, in Kalimpong.
“The CM was not able to hold programmes in Kalimpong in February this year, and as a result, she may organise a gala in Kalimpong to promote development and to celebrate the formation of a separate Kalimpong district,” the source said. Sources also said that the CM may also visit Sikkim during the same time.
“Though the rural polls will not be held in the Hills this time around too due to technical and legal reasons, her visit to Kalimpong and Sikkim will be an indirect campaigning, which will have a bearing on the rural polls elsewhere in the state,” the sources said.
An observer, meanwhile, said that the entire Hill region under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is politically significant for political parties like the Trinamul Congress and the BJP for a Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal.
According to an official observer, the Centre is not only keeping an eye on the GTA, presently controlled by a Board of Administrators led by Chairman Binoy Tamang and appointed by the state government, but also extending assistance to the Hill body.
“The Centre has recently released funds of around Rs 135 crore (the remaining amount of a 600 crore package announced by the Centre earlier), so that no one can blame the Centre and brand it a stepmother,” the observer said.
“Keeping in mind the present fund release from the Centre, the chief minister will leave no stone unturned to do something impressive. She must go to the Hills in May,” he added.
Political sources also confirmed that the rural polls will be held in due time and that Miss Banerjee may not give time to opponents, including the BJP, for election preparations.
“This is a good time for the Trinamul Congress to win almost all boards in the upper tier (Zilla Parishad) and secure a landslide victory in the three-tier rural polls. This positive election results will also be significant in creating her base in national politics,” a party source said.
Party sources added that the chief minister will campaign indirectly in the rural polls. “There are enough party leaders and ministers, who will showcase during the rural poll campaigning that the CM is a contender for the Prime Minister’s post,” they said.