Suri: From wearing headgears made of sal leaf to promising every Santhal family a home by 2019, leaders of TMC made a concerted effort to woo a restive tribal population in Birbhum at a Sainthia rally on Sunday.
Jolted by back-to-back losses in tribal cooperative elections, or LAMPS, Bengal’s ruling party is desperate to make amends before the forthcoming panchayat polls.
State agriculture minister Asish Banerjee surprised the tribal gathering by delivering a speech in Santhali language. Fisheries minister Chandranath Sinha, Birbhum zilla parishad sabhadhipati Bikash Roy Chowdhury, Salboni MLA Srikanta Mahato and Nayagarh MLA Dulal Murmu, too, attended the meeting.
The leaders harped on what the Mamata Banerjee government would do for tribal people’s uplift. Not surprisingly, the maximum rhetoric came from the party’s district president, Anubrata Mondal. In his three-minute speech, Mondal said: “All Santhal families will get their own house by 2019 and the Mamata Banerjee government is always with Santhal people.”
Birbhum has around 8% tribals. Though this scattered population cannot significantly influence results of Parliament or assembly elections, it can determine panchayat election results in a number of blocks. In the last one year, Trinamool has had to face resistance in elections to a number of tribal cooperative societies. The participation of Santhals in BJP programmes since last year’s Ramnavami rally has worried Trinamool leaders.