Darjeeling: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will on Tuesday address an election rally hold in Kurseong, kicking off Trinamool Congress' assembly election campaign from the hills.
The hill unit of the Trinamul Congress had earlier announced that Mamata would hold a public meeting in Kurseong to convince people here that TMC could pose a major challenge to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the Assembly polls, banking on various development boards, which she had launched for different communities.
Binny Sharma, general secretary, Darjeeling (hill) Trinamul, said, "Although the venue has not been fixed, it will most probably be held at Monteviot Ground."
Shanta Chhetri, who had been elected to the Assembly three times on GNLF ticket, was fielded by Trinamul in the Kurseong seat. Sarda Rai Subba and Harka Bahadur Chhetri have been fielded by the party in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, respectively.
Elections will be held to the three hill Assembly segments on April 17.
Mamata appears to be confident that Trinamul would put up a strong fight in the three seats.
"The confidence stems from the fact that she has formed separate development boards for many hill communities and she expects their support for Trinamul candidates," a Trinamul leader had said earlier.
So far, development boards have been formed for Lepchas, Tamangs, Sherpas, Bhutias and Mangars. The chief minister has announced development boards for the Limbus and Rais as well, but they have not been formed yet. These communities together make up over 50 per cent of the hill population.
The elections, observers believe, will show if political benefits will accrue to Trinamul from the boards. "This is the elections where it will be clear whether Mamata's development boards have managed to win the hearts of the hill people," said an observer.
The Morcha, on the other hand, has been alleging that the boards were formed with an intention to divide and rule the hill population.