Surfeit of tribal nominations in Bankura this election

Kanchan Siddiqui

KHATRA (Bankura), April 14
: Several tribal parties under different names, styles and designs have fielded their candidates in the Bankura district Lok Sabha seats this year. A few of the parties with footholds had past alliances with the Trinamul Congress in the last Lok Sabha, Assembly and panchayat elections. Notable among these were parties from the remote villages in Khatra sub-division.

The CPI-M expects a clean sweep in Bankura with the Opposition vote getting multiple split this year. Mr Amio Patra, district CPI-M secretary, said: “Polling in places like Bankura, where we have a stronghold, always follows a very simple equation: Our candidate versus all in the Opposition. In that case, the ratio of CPI-M versus the Opposition for the Bankura seat is 1: 10 this year.” The presence of so many Opposition candidates, according to Mr Patra: “Would definitely benefit the CPI-M. 11 per cent of Bankura's populace are tribals.”

The Jharkhand Party (Adiya) has fielded Mr Probir Banerjee from the Bankura seat, where Mr Subrata Mukherjee is the grand alliance (Congress – Trinamul Congress) candidate. The JKP (Aditya) runs seven panchayats hand in hand with the Trinamul Congress. It runs three panchayats in Khatra - Raotora, Meralya and Barikul - alone.
JKP (Naren) has fielded Mr Asim Duley as its candidate. The Rashtriya Dehat Morcha, a relatively new addition to the battlefield, has fielded Mr Arpan Kumar Pathak from the Bankura seat itself. Mr Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has also come forward to attract the significant tribal vote bank by fielding candidates in Bankura and Bishnupur. The Naxalites also have been trying their luck in Bankura.

The CPI-ML (Liberation) has fielded Mr Sudhir Murmu for the Bankura seat. The parties, though fighting individually, have similar demands. The JKP (Aditya and Naren) and JMM have made it clear that they have vowed to struggle for autonomy in Bankura, Purulia, and parts of West Midnapore.

Mr Aditya Kisku, state president of his faction, said: “It’s a fight for our own prestige, dignity and identity. The tribal people are never given serious consideration. We are cheated by all political parties."

Mr Kisku continued: "In the last Lok Sabha elections, we had fielded two candidates in Bishnupur and Bankura. Miss Mamata Banerjee had requested me to withdraw and we pulled out. This time she did not even talk to us. We feel insulted. What does she think ~ since the Congress has now joined hands with her she will be able to defeat the CPI-M? We are waiting and if she responds we will consider her terms. We also don’t want multiple splitting of the Opposition vote bank.”

Mr Subrata Mukherjee, the Congress candidate struggling in Bankura seat, will respond to the immediate ‘open hearted talk’ with the JKP (Aditya) and JKP (Naren). He said: “I have spoken to Mr Aditya Kisku. He has certain grievances which need to be addressed. I shall request that Miss Banerjee have a talk with him. I expect things will be all right before the last date of the withdrawal of nomination papers.”