Dilip Ghosh openly “invites” Chhatradhar Mahato, face of Lalgarh, to BJP

West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Monday openly “invited” leader from Jangalmahal, Chhatradhar Mahato, to his party. Mahato, former senior leader of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) a group that was backed by the Maoists in West Bengal’s Lalgarh during the people’s movement there more than a decade ago, recently joined the Trinamool Congress and is now the party’s state committee member.

Dilip Ghosh, at the inauguration of Jagaddhatri Puja at a club in Gopiballabhpur in Jhargram district, said that Mahato was welcome to the BJP, a party that would give him respect, and asked him to quit the Trinamool Congress that was cheating him. Ghosh said that Mamata Banerjee had put him in jail for a decade and had now taken him out because she wants his help to win over the people of Jangalmahal. “Do not forget, you were put in jail and kept there for years. Now, you have been taken out in order to win votes, and your wife has been offered job. You are being fooled,” Ghosh said.

According to Ghosh, the way Trinamool Congress was using Mahato in Jangalmahal, the party is similarly using Bimal Gurung in the Hills – first slapping cases against them and then using them to get votes. “People don’t look at this well. Come, we are welcoming you and we will give you respect,” Ghosh said.

Ghosh’s open appeal to Mahato and others in the area has led to speculation that the BJP – that had won several seats in the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 – may be losing grounds in the area now. The BJP had won five of the six seats of the Jangalmahal in 2019. Is Chhatradhar’s joining the Trinamool Congress then, impacting the BJP in Jangalmahal?

Mahato himself reacted saying that it was the former Left Front government – not the Trinamool Congress government – that had arrested him. “And those same Left leaders and supporters are now joining the BJP to create terror in Jangalmahal,” Mahato said.

Chhatradhar Mahato was arrested in 2009 during the tenure of the former Left Front government and he was serving life imprisonment. However, it was reduced to ten years’ imprisonment as there was inadequate proof against him and others arrested in a case of bomb blast in Salboni. Mahato was slapped with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). He was later declared a political prisoner. He has been an influential leader of the PCPA and the face of the Lalgarh movement in the forested areas of Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore and Jhargram. He was released some months back and joined the Trinamool Congress.

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