Unsatisfied with its vigorous victory in the April-May West Bengal assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress may be trying to chase the powerful Rajbongshi community of the state that supported the Bharatiya Janata Party in the polls. TMC appears to be courting Ananta Maharaj, a leader of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) who has power among the Rajbongshis, with senior party leader Rabindranath Ghosh recently meeting him for over half an hour. “He is a gentle person and I had gone to ask about his health. He recently had to go to AIIMS Delhi. There is nothing more to the meeting than this,” Ghosh told.
This is the second time that the Trinamool leader met Maharaj within a month. In that spell, TMC MLA Jagadish Basunia also chaired a meeting with the GCPA leader.Both Trinamool and BJP, thus, refuse these were political meetings.
TMC chairperson and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee knows the importance of the Rajbongshi vote – a key factor in about 54 assembly segments in North Bengal including Cooch Behar, out of the state’s 294 seats. About 30 percent of North Bengal voters are Rajbongshis.
Malati Rava, BJP district president of Cooch Behar, stated, “Ananta Maharaj is not a political person. He was unwell and, thus, leaders of all political parties are going to meet him. I also pray for his recovery. He will never merge into politics and he has good terms with our leaders.”
During crusading for the assembly polls, union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah had had lunch with Ananta Maharaj in Assam. And the BJP’s North Bengal advocacy worked for the party, insiders say.
The TMC did not perform well in the Cooch Behar region with Rajbongshi domination, winning 2 seats here, while 7 went to the BJP. The state’s ruling party also had a bad performance in neighbouring zones.
The BJP wants to dominate in this region and that is why it made Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik a minister of state for home affairs during a union cabinet reshuffle last month. Analysts say the recent string of meetings suggests the TMC too is keen to fight the area back.