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Mamata Banerjee's first visit to Darjeeling after Lok Sabha elections on July 16

Darjeeling : West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will visit Darjeeling on July 16. This will be her first visit to the Hills after the Lok Sabha elections and after her party's massive defeat in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat to the BJP. Mamata had visited almost every districts after the Lok Sabha elections and held administrative meetings in each of these districts. But she is yet to visit Darjeeling hills after Trinamool's poll debacle in the hills. Footballer Baichung Bhutia had contested Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat on a Trinamool Congress ticket and lost to BJP's S.S.Alhuwaliah by a margin of 1,99,829 votes.

BJP's victory margin has worried the ruling party which is yet to find out the factors responsible for this huge defeat. Under this backdrop, Mamata'a visit in Darjeeling hills bears political significance. The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), the cardinal political force in Darjeeling, had given support to the BJP in this Lok Sabha elections. The GJM had a very cordial relations with Mamata Banerjee and her party when they came to power in May 2011. But later bilateral relations between ruling Trinamool Congress and the GJM had deteriorated sharply mainly because of oppressive measures adopted by Mamata Banerjee's government to thwart the statehood demand by the GJM. Hundreds of GJM workers, including some of it's key leaders were arrested by the state administration for organising movement in the Hills to realise their statehood demand.

 Mamata herself had issued threats while addressing several meetings in Darjeeling. Now the GJM is a partner of the BJP-led NDA government in Delhi. GJM chief Bimal Gurung was invited by the BJP leadership to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi and Gurung had obliged the ruling party by attending the ceremony in Delhi held on May 26. Mamata is vehemently opposing the BJP government. She came down heavily on the saffron party, opposing the rail budget and general budget presented by the Union government. Her government also did not hesitate to join hands with the CPIM and Congress to pass a resolution in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly (WBLA) opposing the rail fare hikes and freight charges. The state Assembly, in it's resolution, had demanded withdrawal of rail fare hike. West Bengal chief minister is still giving signals that she would not refrain herself from opposing Narendra Modi government. Many in Bengal's political circles here feel that Mamata is not averse to the idea of joining hands with the CPIM and Congress to oppose BJP. In fact, she had already softened her stand on combating the CPIM politically.

On June 9, she met a Left Front delegation for the first time to listen to the complaints by the opposition front regarding attacks on their activists by the ruling Trinamool Congress activists in different parts of the state. She also assured the Left leaders like CPIM politburo member and state unit secretary Biman Bose who led the delegation that she will look into each complaint case by case and take steps to stop atrocities on Left workers across the state. After her meeting with Left leaders on June 9, no major attack was organised on the CPIM and Left workers in the state. Interestingly, the BJP has now become Trinamool's target and the ruling party is attacking the BJP activists in the state.

 Naturally, Mamata's visit in Darjeeling on July 16 is politically significant. So far, GJM leaders have not got any idea about the chief minister's visit to the Hills. "We have heard about her visit. But we don't know any details about her visit---whether she will come to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. We are in total dark about her visit," GJM MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetry told ET on Saturday. GJM insiders feel that the chief minister is coming to visit Darjeeling to convey her political message to the Hill people who are still against the ruling Trinamool Congress. The GJM has also not taken any sort of agitation programme during the chief minister's v
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