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Cooch Behar Voters Against Division of West Bengal

A section of BJP leaders from the region has been demanding a Union Territory comprising the eight northern districts of the state.
Cooch Behar Voters Against Division of West Bengal

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

West Bengal (WB) is abuzz with rumours of a possible formation of a Union Territory (UT) comprising the eight northern districts.

A section of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders from the region, including Alipurduar MP John Barla, Matigara-Naxalbari MLA Anandamoy Barman and Dabgram-Phulbari MLA Shikha Chatterjee, has been demanding a UT.

The rumours gained momentum after Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) leader Ananta Roy (Maharaj) met Union minister of state for home Nisith Pramanik on Friday and claimed that a state will be carved out of WB.

“I believe that there will be a separate state very soon—100%. I just can’t tell the time. The government will tell that,”

Roy, who heads a faction of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association, which seeks a separate Greater Cooch Behar state carved out of northern WB, had said after meeting Pramanik. “Whether Greater Cooch Behar or North Bengal, a separate state will be informed,” he added.

Rajbangshi voters in Cooch Behar and large parts of north Bengal play a critical role in deciding election winners in the district and several adjacent constituencies. Rai has supported the BJP in several polls in the past few days. Before the 2021 Assembly polls, Union home minister Amit Shah met him in Assam. Subsequently, the Rai faction claimed that Shah had promised a UT.

According to political experts in this regard, Roy has the support of a vast majority of people in Cooch Behar and neither the BJP nor the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) wants to lose those votes.

However, locals of Dinhata or Sitai feel that it is more important to remove the TMC from power than to form a UT or state and allege that some political leaders are trying to mislead them.

A state government employee from Dinhata requesting anonymity told People’s Reporter that “a section of political leaders is trying to convince people that the Trinamool will be removed only if North Bengal is divided. They are trying to instigate people. But a majority of Cooch Behar people want the Trinamool out and don’t support the division of north Bengal”.

Questions are also being raised about the TMC’s alleged association with Roy, who was seen on stage with chief minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee in Cooch Behar. Banerjee reportedly also sent gifts to Roy on Bhrati Dwitiya (Bhai Dooj). Roy too sent gifts to the CM and invited her to his house.

Cooch Behar Municipality TMC chairman Rabindranath Ghosh and Alipurduar district TMC vice-president Premananda Das apparently share a good rapport with Roy.

“Anant Maharaj is not associated with any political party—it is not right to mix politics with everything. One person can have a good relationship with another person,” Ghosh had said.

Replying to journalists regarding the rumours of a possible formation of a UT or state, CPI(M) Central Committee leader Sujan Chakraborty recently said, “Who is this Anant Maharaj? He is close to both Amit Shah and Mamata Banerjee. These separatists have been hand in glove with the BJP and the TMC for a long time. Kamta in the north, Mamata in the south’ is their slogan.”

Chakraborty also alleged that the “TMC also used Bimal Gurung for its political interests. Gurung called Mamata Banerjee ‘Ma’ and the Trinamool government has recognised the term ‘Gorkhaland’. Gurung misleads the people of Darjeeling on behalf of both the TMC and the BJP”.

Chakraborty further alleged that that the “Trinamool and the BJP have been doing politics with separatists in the north of the state for a long time. They are trying to divert attention from their crimes by creating division among people and destabilising the state.”

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