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Getting Battle-ready: Mamata Announces 3 New Police Battalions in Bid to Woo Rajbongshis, Gorkhas and Tribals

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Observers say the decision to set up these battalions – especially the Narayani battalion – could be a disadvantage for the BJP amid demands from the Rajbongshi community in North Bengal to the Centre to establish a ‘Narayani Regiment’ .

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Sujit Nath

Ahead of the West Bengal assembly Polls in 2021, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday made a strategic move by announcing the formation of three separate police battalions under the names of ‘Narayani’ in Cooch Behar, ‘Gorkha’ in the Hills and ‘Jangalmahal’ focusing on the tribal belt.

While announcing the three battalions at the state secretariat, the CM said it was a long-pending demand of the people from North Bengal, the Hills and tribal-dominated areas.

“Today, I am happy to announce that the cabinet has approved the formation of ‘Narayani battalion’, ‘Gorkha battalion’ and ‘Jangalmahal battalion’. Narayani battalion will be set up considering the sentiments and struggle of the Narayani Sena,” she said.

Observers say the decision to set up these battalions – especially the Narayani battalion – could be a disadvantage for the BJP amid demands from the Rajbongshi community in North Bengal to the Centre to establish a ‘Narayani Regiment’ .

With a more than 30 per cent vote share in the region, the Rajbongshis are undeniably a crucial electoral factor. The community helped the BJP make massive inroads in North Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

It helped extend the Left rule in Bengal for many years till Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011. The Rajbongshis backed the BJP for last year's parliamentary elections, which led to major disappointments for the TMC.

Mamata knows the significance of the Rajbongshi vote – a key factor in nearly 50 out of 54 assembly segments in North Bengal (out of the state's 294 assembly seats) – for her mission ‘Ekush’ (2021 polls).

On November 6, West Bengal BJP leaders requested party national president Jagat Prakash Nadda – who was on a two-day visit to Bengal – to convince the Centre to form a new ‘Narayani Sena’ regiment under the ministry of defence.

Underscoring that there is no regiment in the name of Bengal, state BJP leaders say that creation of a ‘Narayani Sena' regiment will fulfil a long-pending wish of the people of the state, especially the Rajbongshi community.

The Rajbongshi warriors of the last Koch king Naranarayan, who ruled in the early 16th century, were collectively known as the Narayani Sena, researchers say.

BJP MP from Bengal’s Cooch Behar, Nisith Pramanik, had said last month, “In the 1950s, the kingdom of Koch kings became a part of West Bengal along with the Narayani Sena. However, Jawaharlal Nehru didn’t give much recognition to the Narayani Sena. There are nearly 3 crore Rajbongshi community people whose ancestors once belonged to the Narayani Sena. They are excellent warriors and many of them are already serving the Indian Army. Recently, we lost our jawan Bipul Roy at Galwan Valley. He was a Rajbongshi. There is no Bengal Regiment in the Indian Army and therefore we felt that the demand is legitimate and it will be a proud thing for the people to have their own regiment serving our country.” Pramanik added that Nadda had promised to consider the demand.


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