Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri/Raiganj, May 19: Trinamul today made inroads into the Congress bastions of Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur and secured 10 of the 16 seats in the two districts.
In 2011, Trinamul had got only four seats in the two districts.
“The AIIMS issue in North Dinajpur had left the many district Trinamul leaders like us in an awkward position as Mamata Banerjee proposed Kalyani as the site instead of Panishala near Raiganj. Even then, we could win two additional seats in the district time,” a Trinamul insider said. “The reason, we believe, is the consistent development work carried out by the state government, and particularly the north Bengal development department.”
Congress and Left leaders in North Dinajpur, however, said their shortcomings worked in Trinamul’s favour.
“Congress leaders contested two seats – Chopra and Karandighi – as Independents and drew votes which would otherwise have gone to the alliance’s candidate. We lost in both seats as the dissidents got 15,000 and 35,000 votes, respectively. This division of votes helped Trinamul win the seats,” said Mohit Sengupta, the North Dinajpur district Congress president, who himself has won the Raiganj seat with a margin of 51,247 votes. “We tried our best to ensure that the alliance is formed at the grassroots but there were certain shortcomings in some seats, particularly in seats where Trinamul has won.”
A seat that the Congress could save was Islampur. In Islampur, Kanaialal Agarwal, the Congress candidate had defied the Left’s decision to allot the seat to the Janata Dal (United). He contested and defeated Trinamul’s Abdul Karim Chowdhury.
“There was a high chance that we would have lost in Islampur. But what saved Kanaialal is that the party officially endorsed him and also, he had the support of local Left leaders and workers as the decision to allot the seat to the Dal(U) was taken by Md. Salim and some district leaders,” a Congress source said.
Trinamul won Itahar, Chopra, Karandighi and Goalpokhor this time.
In Jalpaiguri, where Trinamul had won only two seats last time, the party made a near-clean sweep and won six of the seven seats.
In Dhupguri, they said, Mamata’s announcement to recognise the Rajbanshi language as well as her decision to make Mitali Roy, an ex-Kamtapur People’s Party leader, the candidate for the seat helped Trinamul to get the Rajbanshi votes.
“Also, the state’s decision to provide food grains at the rate of 45 paisa a kilo to the entire tea population, the opening of the first Hindi college in Banarhat, the formation of a tribal affairs department and extension of other welfare schemes to tea workers, helped the party in Malbazar and Nagrakata, where votes of the tea population matter a lot,” the observer said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR RAIGANJ CORRESPONDENT