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Mamta Banerjee Draws BJP Rule Tripura For West Bengal Election Campaign

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday referred to the problems that tribal and Rajbanshi people were allegedly facing in the BJP-ruled states of Assam and Tripura as part of her strategy to revive the Trinamul Congress in north Bengal, a region where the two communities together hold the key in 30 out of 54 Assembly segments. “Please visit Assam and Tripura and speak to rickshaw pullers, grocers, common people… You will come to know about the condition of tribal and the Rajbanshi people there,” the chief minister said while addressing a rally at the Alipurduar parade ground. Former Tripura chief minister and CPM leader Manik Sarkar had made a similar statement at a Burdwan rally on Tuesday. He had said: “Take a train to Tripura, talk to rickshaw pullers and grocers and learn from them what a blunder they committed by voting the BJP to power in the state.” Addressing over 50,000 people on Wednesday afternoon, Mamata also said: “Here, we have made laws to protect tribal land. I have written letters to the Centre so that Sarna, the religious code of the tribal people, is given recognition. Go and see what they have done in Assam and Tripura.” In the past few months, the Bengal government took a slew of measures, ranging from hiking wages for workers in tea gardens to legitimising refugee colonies, to win over the adivasis and the Rajbanshis. A Trinamul source said the fact that the party had tasted some success in its mission became clear as two major opinion makers in the two communities — Rajesh Lakra, a former leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad and Bangshibadan Burman, general secretary of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association — were present at Mamata’s rally. In the last Lok Sabha polls, Lakra had campaigned for the BJP in the tribal-dominated areas, while Burman, whom Mamata had made the chairman of Rajbanshi Development and Cultural Board in 2017, had distanced himself from Trinamul. On Wednesday, Lakra went all guns blazing at the Narendra Modi government. “In the Terai-Dooars region, we will remove even the traces of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our Didi has done so much for the tribal and Rajbanshi communities… She has delivered on her promises for people. We want her to return to power with 200-plus seats,” said Lakra, a tribal leader. “I am a priest and a pastor… Mark my words, Didi will come to power,” he added. When Mamata rose to deliver her address immediately after Lakra had finished his speech, she thanked the young tribal leader before rolling out a long list of what her government had done for all communities in the region. “We believe in taking everyone along… We believe in standing by people and our schemes bear the proof of what we have done,” she said. “We want peace, they (the BJP) want riots, we want development, they want immersion, we want to create employment, they want retrenchment,” the chief minister summed up in her attempt to differentiate between Trinamul and the BJP.

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