Panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held next year, but a look at chief minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee’s hectic schedule may leave one wondering if they are next month. The CM has been visiting various districts in the state since May, holding meetings and assessing the ground situation ahead of the polls.
She went to Medinipur and did administrative and political meetings there. She visited the Bankura and Purulia districts this week. On Friday, she will be in Singur to inaugurate a Ma Santoshi temple. The TMC chief is then scheduled to visit Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar in north Bengal within the first week of June.
Party insiders say that in every district, Mamata is trying to understand the development situation and the condition of the TMC organisation.
By July, they say, she would have visited all 23 districts in West Bengal.
After getting a scare from the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has swept assembly polls, municipal elections, and bypolls in the state.
So why then is the TMC chief laying such emphasis on her party’s preparations for the panchayat polls?
There are two reasons, say experts. One is, that she wants to get a sense of the situation on the ground firsthand.
Second, the 2018 Bengal panchayat elections witnessed a wave of violence and a large number of seats were picked up by Trinamool uncontested.
There were allegations that the TMC did not allow the opposition to contest.
This, observers say, had a big impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP bagged an unprecedented 18 seats in the state out of the total 42.
TMC sources say the party this time has already instructed leaders and cadres in different districts that development should be the only agenda of the elections, not violence.
Mamata’s presence will rejuvenate the district organisations and also motivate the workers, they say.
However, Sukanta Majumdar, BJP state president, told News18, “Let Mamata Banerjee roam around. This will not yield votes. TMC ‘gundabahini’ (gang of goons) in the booths will earn them votes, and they will try to use the administration as they always do. We will confront them."
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