|Asok Bhattacharya; (right) and Sankar Malakar|
TT, Siliguri, April 27: If Siliguri can do it, the rest of Bengal can too – this is the message that two prominent political faces in north Bengal are spreading across the state, particularly in the areas that will vote soon.
Asok Bhattacharya and Sankar Malakar, two leaders known for conceiving the “Siliguri model” – the strategy of forging an alliance between the Left Front and the Congress to defeat Trinamul – are busy campaigning in south Bengal and Calcutta.
“I have received an overwhelming response from the people in different districts of south Bengal and even in Calcutta. Since April 19, I have addressed around 20 meetings and I will continue campaigning for the Congress and the Left candidates till tomorrow. Then I will visit Cooch Behar where elections would be held on May 5,” Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president, said.
“In each of these meetings, I am specifically pointing out that Siliguri has shown the way. We have achieved success by following the strategy (Siliguri model) in the local polls (Siliguri civic elections and three tier rural polls in 2015). If Siliguri can do it, then we believe, the entire state can do it to oust Trinamul from power,” Malakar, who is also the Congress candidate in the Matigara-Naxalbari seat, said.
After the April 17 phase of polls, both Malakar and Asok Bhattacharya headed for Calcutta.
“As per the instructions of our party leaders, I have addressed a number of public meetings at different places in Calcutta and in south Bengal districts. Everywhere, people have responded positively to our decision of allying with the Congress. People have also appreciated us for our success in Siliguri,” Bhattacharya said today.
The state secretariat member of the CPM, who has been campaigning extensively in south Bengal since last week, has also visited Cooch Behar.
Today, he reached Siliguri from Cooch Behar and left for Calcutta.
“During our campaigns, we are mentioning that it is through replication of this strategy (Siliguri model) that we can end Trinamul’s misrule in the state. In our speech, we have elaborated how the people of Siliguri have joined hands, both in the urban and rural areas, to keep Trinamul at bay,” Bhattacharya, who is the Siliguri candidate of the alliance, said. “Whether in the plains or the hills, towns or villages, people have joined hands with each other and they share a common motto of removing Trinamul from power.”
The Siliguri mayor added: “Through a consistent campaign by both the Left and the Congress, we could inculcate confidence among the people in north Bengal and gradually in other parts of the state. In our initial days, there was confusion even among our workers about whether it would work. But eventually, the ball started rolling and people started believing that the plan can work. The effect of such a campaign was witnessed across Bengal. That is why we could see huge crowds in different meetings organised by either the Left or the Congress.”
Political observers said the presence of the two leaders would help consolidate votes for the alliance.
“There is no doubt that in the past five years, Siliguri has emerged as a ‘political brand’. Naturally, the two leaders representing the Left and the Congress who had been instrumental in conceiving the strategy that has been adopted at the highest levels of their parties have gained importance. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the duo are the faces of the Siliguri model and their presence in campaigns across the state would help consolidate support in favour of the alliances candidates,” an observer said.
He added: “Siliguri residents have witnessed it (the strategy) but a voter residing in a remote village in south Bengal might still have some confusion. The presence of any of these leaders and their speech can help clear that confusion.”