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Eye on Siliguri Assembly seat; TMC starts poll work

Despite winning the constituency in 2011, the ruling party lost it to the CPIM in 2016. The constituency covers 33 of the 47 Wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and has 245 booths.

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Eying to regain the Siliguri Assembly Constituency, the Trinamul Congress has focused on reaching out to the people, strengthening booth-based party organisation, and formulating strategies.

As part of its booth-level workers’ meetings of Assembly constituencies, the party today held a meeting of the Siliguri Assembly Constituency. Despite winning the constituency in 2011, the ruling party lost it to the CPIM in 2016. The constituency covers 33 of the 47 Wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) and has 245 booths.

State tourism minister Gautam Deb said they were hopeful about winning the prestigious seat in the next elections that are due for next year.

“According to the pulse of the people here, they are in favour of the Trinamul Congress. Siliguri is our winnable seat. We will win the elections,” he said. Mr Deb said focus should be laid on inducting academics and the young generation in the party.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Deb said it was high time the party prepared for the elections. He said party activists should focus on their areas, develop mass contacts from the time of the festivals and listen to them. According to him, party workers should be alerted as the BJP has focused on Siliguri as one of the core centres. “The BJP is operating in north Bengal districts by focusing on Siliguri. The Union home minister is likely to visit here. Party activists should remain alert,” Mr Deb said.

He briefed party members on the strengths and weaknesses of the party in the 33 Wards. Mr Deb said there should be strategies for both Assembly and civic body polls in some wards like 16 and 21. He said booths should be divided into three categories— those which are “strongholds of the party, not good and win-win situation.” Mr Deb also said the Railways’ “hands should be smashed” if it applies force to evict people from the land where they have been living for years. “We should reply to them in the language they understand if there are attempts of forceful eviction,” he said.

He further accused the chairman of the board of administrators (BoA) of the SMC and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya of having double standards. “He enjoys the facilities of the state government. Being a nominated chairperson of the board appointed by the state government, he should toe its line. But he is practicing double standards,” Mr Deb said.

Mr Bhattacharya, on the other hand, said Trinamul Congress should prepare to face the “same election results” in the next elections as it saw earlier. “Staying in the BoA does not mean we are not service-holders under the state government,” he said.

District party president Ranjan Sarkar said it was unfortunate that the party had failed to win a single seat in the elections in Siliguri since 2015. “We are facing questions for the defeats. But in the next elections, we will definitely win,” he said.