BIRESWAR BANERJEE and AVIJIT SINHA, TT,, Siliguri, July 7: State tourism minister and Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb today said “we feel ashamed and had to walk with our heads down” in Calcutta because of the party’s back-to-back defeat in polls in the Siliguri sub-division in the past one year.
“Whenever we go to Calcutta, we feel ashamed and had to walk with our heads down. In these days, we from Darjeeling district and those from Malda district are being scoffed at and told that we are people who have made Trinamul fail (in the Assembly polls). About five years back, we could ally with the Congress at Siliguri Municipal Corporation and remove the CPM from the political arena of Siliguri. 
However, for some reason or the other, the CPM has returned to the political circle of Siliguri and its surroundings. We will have to work hard and work together to oust the CPM from power. Simultaneously, an exercise has to be carried out at the booth level to ascertain the reasons of our failure,” Deb said.
He called a meeting of party workers and leaders at the Kanchenjungha Stadium Hall here this afternoon to discuss the plans to attend the public meeting to be convened by the party in Calcutta on July 21.
“Our sole target is the 2019 Parliament polls and we will have to put in our best efforts to ensure the party’s victory in Darjeeling seat,” he said at the meeting.
The district president, while speaking further and addressing a gathering of around 1,000 people who had come from different areas of Siliguri subdivision and the adjoining areas of Jalpaiguri district, also expressed disappointment over the performance of Trinamul councillors at Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
“The civic body has miserably failed to provide minimum services to the residents and yet, those who are in the civic body from our party could not take up movements in the interest of people. We want our councillors to launch movements over civic issues. If required, they should launch protests against the civic board. The district party will extend all possible co-operation to them,” Deb said.
After being selected as the district president by Mamata Banerjee last week, this is the first time that Deb has addressed the leaders and workers of the district.
In today’s meeting, however, four prominent second-tier leaders were absent, much to Deb’s displeasure, party insiders said. They were Ranjan Sarkar (immediate past district president), Nantu Paul (former working president and leader of Trinamul at the SMC), Krishna Pal (councillor) and Pratul Chakraborty (former district president of the party).
The state tourism minister, when asked about the absence of these leaders, said: “Krishna (Pal) and Nantu (Paul) are out of Siliguri. I will speak to Ranjan (Sarkar) and Pratulda (Chakraborty) about their absence. “