Mamata Banerjee begins outreach in tribal belt days after Shah’s visit; BJP says it’s too late

Seventeen days after Union home minister Amit Shah visited Bankura district in the western part of West Bengal, discussed elections with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders from the region and had lunch at a tribal home, chief minister Mamata Banerjee reached the district on Sunday afternoon.

Shah spent around eight hours in Bankura. Banerjee will be attending administrative meetings and public rallies till November 25, said Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders.

“Mamata Banerjee is not a migratory bird who pays a visit once in a while to have lunch with people. She has done a lot for the tribal population. We are confident that she will do more in the future,” said Jyotsna Mandi, the TMC legislator from Ranibandh which is reserved for scheduled tribe candidates.

Incidentally, all 13 assembly segments in Bankura district are part of three Lok Sabha seats that also comprise some assembly segments from two adjoining districts. These Lok Sabha seats, Bankura, Bishnupur and Bardhaman-Durgapur, were won by the BJP in 2019 when it won 18 of the state’s 42 seats.

Banerjee’s visit is significant because the TMC also launched its new outreach programme in Bankura on Saturday. All legislators in the state have been asked to visit their constituencies with local bureaucrats and interact with people about their problems and solve those within a stipulated time frame.

Sampa Daripa, the legislator from Bankura assembly segment visited a tribal village prior to the chief minister’s visit. “The villagers are having some problems getting subsidised ration. They also want a road repaired. These will be taken care of,” said Daripa.

BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu, who visited Durgapur on Sunday to attend organizational meetings, scoffed at the chief minister’s visit to the tribal belt.

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“Banerjee is making desperate efforts but nothing can save her government. It’s like saying prayers for the dying. She should have reached out to these people when they needed her help. All these years the TMC delivered nothing but corruption. The tribal people want jobs and security that she cannot provide,” said Basu.

The region will be a crucial factor for the TMC in the assembly polls due in about five months because voters expressed their confidence in the BJP in 2019.

Dr Subhas Sarkar wrested the Bankura Lok Sabha seat from the TMC by securing 49.2 % votes. Union minister S S Ahluwalia won from Bardhaman-Durgapur while TMC’s Saumitra Khan retained the Bishnupur seat after joining the BJP prior to the polls. Khan is now president of the BJP’s state youth front.

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