CPM plans rally for comeback in hills

The Telegraph

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Biman Bose in Siliguri on Friday. (Kundan Yolmo)

Siliguri, Oct. 25: The beleaguered CPM is planning to tiptoe back to the hills with a rally next month at a time Mamata Banerjee has pushed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the back foot besides carving out a political space for the Trinamul Congress in the region.

After a two-day meeting of the CPM’s Darjeeling district committee in Siliguri, party state secretary Biman Bose said the rally would be held in Darjeeling to celebrate former chief minister Jyoti Basu’s birth centenary

“We will hold the meeting as part of Jyoti babu’s birth centenary celebrations. In view of the recent political developments in the hills, it’s true that we have lost some foothold and have become weak. But we still exist there,’’ Bose said.

For the main Opposition party in the state, Darjeeling has become important since Mamata’s strategy of combating the Morcha started paying dividends. Today, the chief minister earned another brownie point as she managed to seek an assurance from the Morcha that it would never call a bandh in the hills in future.

Bose, who has earlier mocked Mamata for claiming “pahar hasche (the hills are smiling)”, had no option but to give the chief minister the credit for starting a dialogue with the Morcha.

“We wanted the Morcha to sit with the government and talk across the table. Now that the Morcha has listened to the chief minister and the government and decided to go soft, we welcome it,” said Bose, while adding that normalcy in the hills would result in regular earnings for people connected with tourism.

Even as he welcomed the government’s success, party sources said the CPM leadership had realised that they would have to put their house in order to block Trinamul’s total triumph in the hills.

“If we fail to prove that we still have some political clout in the hills, it will affect us politically… Mamata will claim that she has not only calmed the hills but has also made Trinamul a major political force there,” said a CPM leader.

Although the CPM has been holding very small meetings in the Darjeeling party office for the last couple of years, no state-level leaders have been present in these very small gatherings.

No public rallies have been organised by the party since the Morcha’s formation in October 2007. In November 2007, the party had decided to hold its district conference in Darjeeling town, but later cancelled it.

Sources in the party said that they were aware that making the rally successful would be easier said than done because both the Morcha and the Trinamul would not allow any space to CPM.

“Jyoti Basu still has some goodwill in the hills as his government had allowed the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council… That’s why we will be holding the rally around his birth centenary celebration,” said a source, admitting the deficiencies in party’s organisation.

The CPM had no MLAs in the hills since the formation of the DGHC. The last CPM candidate to win from the hills was S. P. Lepcha, who was elected in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls boycotted by Subash Ghisingh’s GNLF.

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