West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday joined tribal women and cooked vegetables during a surprise visit to a tribal village in Birbhum district. Her visit to the tribal village, located near Sonajhuri haat in Santiniketan, evoked derision by BJP national general secretary and Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya, who said the chief minister’s sudden visit to the tribal village was nothing but a “drama”.
Banerjee made a sudden detour and entered the tribal village while returning to Kolkata wrapping up a two-day visit to Bolpur in Birbhum district. Banerjee helped a tribal woman Rama Bagdi in cooking vegetables and had tea at the adjacent stall of Babu Bagdi.
She then offered prayers to the deity of the tribals nearby. “Consider me as a daughter of your house. Tell me about your problems. Have you been to the ‘Duare Sarkar’ (government at the doorstep) camp? Do you have the Swasthya Sathi (cashless health scheme) card?,” Banerjee asked the villagers.
She asked the accompanying district officials to construct toilets in every dwelling unit in the area when the women told her of the difficulties faced by them. When Banerjee later left the village to board a chopper, the tribal families of the village which is located near Sonajhuri haat in Santiniketan, still looked bewildered.
Banerjee’s unscheduled visit came after the one by Union Home Minister Amit Shah who had lunch at a baul (mystic minsteral) singer’s residence at Santiniketan earlier this month and at a tribal’s residence at Bankura during his November visit to the state. Incidentally the ruling TMC had suffered erosion in tribal support in Jangalmahal area comprising Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts and suffered electoral reverses in 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the tribal belts of the state.
Commenting on Banerjee’s surprise visit, Vijayvargiya said “This is nothing but drama which will not give her any electoral dividend.” The tribals as well as the electorate in Bengal have already deserted the Trinamool Congress, he claimed.