Decision on others, Morcha out: Tirkey

The Telegraph

BIRESWAR BANERJEE

Birsa Tirkey

Siliguri, May 19: Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad leader Birsa Tirkey today ruled out any understanding with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for the panchayat polls, but said local leaders in the Dooars would decide on a tie-up with other parties in the region.

Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad, is scheduled to visit the Dooars next week to discuss the outfit’s strategy for the rural polls with regional leaders. He did not reply when asked if there was a possibility of the Parishad aligning with the Trinamul Congress.

“The chief minister’s recent visit to the hills and renewing her party’s relation with the Morcha is nothing but a damage-control exercise ahead of the upcoming panchayat election. We will contest the panchayat polls under any circumstances and are not going to tie up with any party which is an associate of the Morcha,” Tirkey said over the phone from Calcutta.

“We have allowed our leaders in the Dooars to decide on the electoral adjustment with any organisation other than the Morcha and parties which are associated with it. I am likely to visit the Dooars next week and will discuss the strategies for the polls with regional leaders,” the Parishad leader added.

Rajesh Lakra, the secretary of the tribal outfit’s Dooars and Terai regional committee, however, said the Parishad would contest the polls for the socio-economic development of the tribal population of the region.

“There are organisations like the Morcha which will contest the polls to fulfil their political interests. But we are going to participate in the polls to uplift the socio-economic status of the tribal population in the region and we will go in for a tie-up as well. We have received the mandate for this from the state leadership,” Lakra said.

The Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, the Parishad’s labour wing for tea garden labourers, has a strong base in the Dooars and Terai.

John Barla, who had been expelled from the Parishad and joined the JMM, has already announced that his party will contest the polls in alliance with the Morcha in tea gardens and Trinamul in the rural areas.

“We have taken a decision to contest the polls in alliance with the Morcha in tea garden areas. We will also support Trinamul candidates to form rural bodies. We know our support base is in the Dooars and the chief minister’s recent visit to the hills will help us and the Morcha,” Barla said.

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