Parishad sets stage for poll fight with Morcha

The Telegraph

Siliguri, March 2: Twenty-four hours after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had expressed its intention to contest in five Assembly constituencies in the Dooars, its bete noire, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, announced today that it would field candidates in the same seats.

The Left Front, which has in its kitty four of the five seats, sought to put up a brave front and refused to speculate on the electoral plans of the Morcha and the Parishad.

Parishad leaders, who met at an undisclosed location in the Dooars today, said they would field candidates in Malbazar, Nagrakata, Birpara-Madarihat, Kalchini and Kumargram.

Tezkumar Toppo, the general secretary of the Parishad, said a six-member committee had also been formed to look into the possibility of contesting in some other seats as well. “The panel will study the feasibility of fielding candidates in Matigara-Naxalbari and Phansidewa in the Terai,” said Toppo.

“We are aware that they (Morcha) will field candidates in these five seats and also in the constituencies in the Terai. But the Parishad has nothing to say on it. Elections are part of democracy and anybody can participate in them. On one way, we consider it as a positive exercise to consolidate our support base. The Adivasis are a majority in the Dooars and when the results are declared on May 13, the Morcha will get to know the reality,” said Toppo.

The Left Front said it was almost certain that the Congress and the Trinamul Congress would field common candidates against them in the five seats.

“But we are not ready to buy the notion that all these organisations (Morcha and Parishad) will contest as yet,” said a CPM leader in Jalpaiguri. “We are trying to win back support in tea belts and maintain our base. Nothing can be speculated right now,” he added.

However, the decision of the Morcha and the Parishad to enter the electoral battle has left Trinamul with furrowed brows. The party feels the presence of the two organisations will split anti-Left votes.

“There is no denying the fact that without the support of the tribal people, it is tough to win elections in the Dooars. Additional support from the Gorkhas will further ensure the victory,” said a Trinamul leader in Jalpaiguri.

“Although it is evident that both these groups have turned against the CPM and the Left Front, the division of anti-CPM votes, even at this juncture, might turn the results in Left’s favour.”

While Malbazar and Nagrakata are held by the CPM, Birpara-Madarihat and Kumargram are represented by the RSP in the Assembly. A Morcha-backed tribal candidate, Wilson Champromari, won in Kalchini in a bypoll in 2009 by dividing the votes of the Congress and the CPM.

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