Kolkata, Dec. 23 -- Keen to further entrench itself across the state since bringing an end to the 34-year Left Front rule in Bengal and tide over the sense of despondency pervading the state over the ways of the government under its watch, the Trinamool Congress leadership has pledged to hit the ground running in January and mobilise a robust campaign for the crucial panchayat polls.
Sensing the ensuing poll battle as an acid test in her oneand-a-half year in office, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly directed her party top bosses including national general secretary Mukul Roy to venture to the grassroots and lead the party's campaign for the critical rural polls.
With party top bosses fairly confident of bagging as many as 16 zilla parishads, the accent is reportedly on making gains in districts where now estranged ally Congress continues to hold sway over the rural administrative bodies.
Key party functionaries have already organised a wave of public meetings and rallies in certain select districts to solicit mass support for the ensuing poll battle. The chief minister herself has led the way, making the poll pitch during her recent tours of the districts. Trinamool currently holds sway over rural bodies in East Midnapore and the South 24-Parganas.
"I am confident we'll win all zilla parishads and the (favourable) outcome in at least 16 districts is a foregone conclusion. Starting January, our party leaders and supporters would switch to high campaign gear across the districts.
We are in the process of lending more muscle to our organisational base in the grassroots and senior party leaders would shortly hold a series of meetings in the districts to rally support," party national general secretary Mukul Roy told HT.
Party sources further confirmed that the top functionaries would switch to a high campaign gear once the yearend festivities are over and done with. Senior leaders would tour the districts extensively, highlighting the developmental initiatives undertaken by the Mamata Banerjee government in the grassroots and the chief minister 'selfless' call to quit the Congress-led UPA in the light of the anti-people policies of the latter.
Key party mandarins further believe that with the Left parties, especially the CPI(M), still smarting from the Assembly poll defeat, they are not likely to post any major gains in the rural polls. They further reckon that despite the party drawing negative press just lately, the Left parties won't be able to milk the same to their advantage in the ensuing poll battle.
With the Congress still holding reigns in Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur, the Trinamool leadership has pledged to lay special emphasis in these districts and gear up for a likely three-way battle with the CPI(M) and Congress.
"Winning Murshidabad could be the key and we are confident of wresting all the zilla parishads there," Roy said.
The party could likely entrust Congress dissidents who recently switched over to Trinamool, with leading the campaign in the Congress strongholds. Former Congress MLAs Krishnendu Choudhury and Humayun Kabir recently vaulted over to Trinamool and were handed berths in the state cabinet.
Key functionaries further talked up the party's chances of Trinamool wresting gram panchayats, panchayat samitys and zilla parishads from such traditional Left strongholds as Burdwan.
With 50% of the panchayat seats reserved for women, the party would highlight certain issues to polarise women voters in the panchayat polls.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.