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West Bengal: Junglemahal moves towards ‘outsider’ vs ‘local’

In West Bengal, out of the 60 seats in which elections will be held in the first and second phases, the contest is becoming important in 44 seats in six districts. These seats in six districts fall in the areas known as ‘Junglemahal’ of Bengal. In these seats, the stakes of ‘outsiders’ versus ‘DNA of Bengal’ have been raised by the voters. The Trinamool Congress has raised the slogan of ‘outsider’ for the BJP. The latest target is the Trinamool Congress’s plan to release the BJP’s election manifesto. In an external reply, top BJP leaders have started identifying themselves as being included in the ‘DNA of Bengal’.

For this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently raised DNA in the public meetings held in the border districts adjoining Jharkhand, referring to Shyamaprasad Mukherjee and his father Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee. Such an exercise is at a peak in areas known as ‘Junglemahal’ of Bengal. Junglemahal consists of 44 assembly seats. These include 12 seats in Bankura district, nine in Purulia, 19 in West Medinipur, and four seats in Jhargram. This area remained the stronghold of the Left Front for three decades. After the Left Front collapsed in Bengal, it became the stronghold of the Trinamool Congress and in the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got five out of eight seats from this tribal-dominated area.

BJP’s hopes are on the rise here. This backward tribal area was once a stronghold of the Maoists. After the formation of Mamta Banerjee’s government, the Maoist violence ended from here, but the questions about development continued. The BJP had raised questions of development in the Lok Sabha elections. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s vote percentage in this area was 20 percent. The BJP got 27 percent of the votes in the 2018 panchayat elections and 47 percent of the votes directly in 2019. This is why the BJP has made Junglemahal its fish’s eye’.

This south-western part of Bengal, bordering Jharkhand and Bihar, was the stronghold of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Between 2008 and 2011, there was a tremendous movement against forced land acquisition and usury. This area has witnessed many political ideologies in the last few decades. The people here were affected by the tricolor of the Congress, from the Maoists to the red and then to the green and white colors of the Trinamool Congress. In the last panchayat election, several independents of the tribal community defeated the candidates of mainstream political parties here.

The BJP won more than one-third of Gram Panchayat seats in the Purulia and Jhargram districts. This is the reason why BJP’s hard work is more visible in the areas of Junglemahal. Actually, apart from Saraswati Shishu Mandir Schools, Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, the network of single schools is definitely benefiting BJP. From BJP leader Dilip Ghosh to central leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has maintained a direct dialogue with the people after she lost her hold in the region in 2019. A few days ago, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren announced his support to Mamata Banerjee, prompting the Trinamool Congress to improve its vote bank. After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee did many things in this area, but poverty and unemployment are still a big issue here.

Chhatradhar Mahato, who was sent to jail on charges of Maoist activities in Lalgarh, was included in the Trinamool Congress after his release. He has been made the General Secretary in the Trinamool Congress. Putting Chhatradhar Mahto in front, the Duare Sarkar Scheme of the Bengal Government was implemented in the Junglemahal area, emphasis was put on ending land disputes, caste certificates were issued, ration cards were given. A free ration scheme is being run here. Employment was provided under the 100-day plan of the state for those returning home during the period of a complete ban. Due to these reasons, a change is being said in the equation of 2019.

Once there was a stronghold of the Left

Leaders have increased their activity in this area. In 2006, the Left Front won 36 seats from this region, which was reduced to three in 2016. In 2006, the Trinamool Congress reached 30 in the 2016 assembly elections against zero. There was widespread violence in the 2018 panchayat elections. There were allegations of not allowing people to cast their votes. Its impact was reflected in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The birthplace of the Jana Sangh is Shyamaprasad Mukherjee. In this sense, BJP is the root party of Bengal. The BJP’s DNA has the ethics, attitudes, and values ​​of Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay, Shyamaprasad Mukhopadhyay.
– Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Kharagpur public meeting

Bengal will remain in the hands of Bengalis. Will not let Bengal into the hands of outsiders and anti-Bengal elements.
– Mamata Banerjee, Bankura and many public meetings

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