Parishad Barla rider for Trinamul tie-up

The Telegraph

Gautam Deb

Siliguri, March 17: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said it would not forge an alliance with the Trinamul Congress if the party governing the state tied up with John Barla to contest panchayat polls in the Dooars and Terai.

Trinamul minister Gautam Deb had reportedly discussed the panchayat elections with Parishad leaders last week. But a day later, Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy announced that his party would enter into an electoral understanding with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which is led by Barla in north Bengal.

Parishad state president Birsa Tirkey today ruled out the possibility of a tie-up with Trinamul.

“Our leaders had held a meeting with minister Gautam Deb last week. However, we want to make it clear that Trinamul will have to shun Barla if they want to forge a tie-up with us. Under no circumstances would we join hands with Trinamul if it enters into any alliance with Barla,” Tirkey told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta.

Tirkey iterated the Parishad’s opposition to Barla for backing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand to bring the adivasi-dominated Dooars and Terai under the GTA Sabha.

“Barla has been expelled from the Parishad for supporting the inclusion of the Terai and Dooars in the GTA territory. We are strictly against Barla’s agenda and would not spare an inch of land for the GTA. We cannot go against the tribal people in the region and share a platform with Barla,” said Tirkey.

After the talks with Mukul Roy in Malbazar on Wednesday, Barla said the JMM and Trinamul would jointly field candidates in non-tea garden areas in the plains. The JMM had announced before that in tea gardens, the party would share seats with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

However, Tirkey today said: “Since Trinamul hasn’t officially declared an alliance with Barla, our doors are still open.”

Trinamul has already started the groundwork for panchayat polls in the Dooars. The Jalpaiguri district president of Trinamul, Chandan Bhowmik, said his party had started preparing a list of seats where it could contest.

“As a follow-up to the meeting between Mukul Roy and John Barla, we are preparing a list of seats where our candidates could file nominations. We hope John Barla will also hand over their list of seats by this week. Trinamul’s trade union is forming units in tea gardens where Morcha leaders have joined us. The formation of trade union units would help bring the supporters of these leaders to Trinamul,” said Bhowmik.

Trinamul, which has formed a core committee in Jalpaiguri to oversee the rural polls with Gautam Deb as chairman and Bhowmik as convener, is forming similar committees in all blocks of the district.

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