Top ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders will visit Jangalmahal on Friday to review the erosion of the party’s base in the panchayat polls.
Jangalmahal bucked the trend of TMC’s near sweep in the polls with BJP emerging stronger in Purulia and Jhargram with 973 gram panchayat seats out of 2,701. The TMC won 44.83 per cent seats — 1,211 — in the two districts while it bagged nearly 67 per cent of the total contested seats in the state.
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee would visit the region along with party general secretary Partha Chatterjee three days after he vowed to turn Purulia into an opposition-free district. “They are flying high following their electoral performance in Purulia. But you have to keep in mind that TMC has also performed well in Purulia. I will visit the district on June 1 (Friday) and make sure the opposition’s (panchayat seats) tally is reduced to zero,” he said at a rally on Tuesday.
The TMC plans a door-to-door campaign to win back the people’s trust. “The BJP has shown a substantial growth in that area. We will reach out to the tribal community and visit their houses. We will try to understand their grievances against us and try to resolve their issues,” said a TMC leader.
The BJP sees an attempt to engineer defections within its ranks in the outreach. A BJP leader said they will try to hold on to their winning candidates.
“The TMC will try to poach our winning candidates either by intimidation or money power. Our challenge will be to hold onto these candidates,’’ he said. “It is clear from the ruling party’s intention that they want to make all gram panchayat and panchayat samitis opposition-free where BJP has majorities. We will not go down without a fight,” said another BJP leader.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha accused TMC of unleashing a reign of terror. “We have performed well in Purulia and Jhargram. The election was marred by violence. Yet we came second in Jangalmahal,’’ he said.
He questioned TMC’s claims that Jangalmahal is “smiling”. “They are playing Holi with blood. One of our workers has been killed in Purulia. TMC leaders who said that that they would turn Purulia into an opposition-free district are responsible for this death,” he said.