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Will TMC Minister’s Remark Against President Murmu Affect Didi’s Tribal Votes?

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee is on a two-day tour to the two most tribal-dominated districts of Jhargram and West Midnapore amid off-the-cuff remarks by one of her ministers regarding President Droupadi Murmu. The tour also holds significance, with an increase in Maoist activities and considerable hold of the BJP in this area. Didi first conducted administrative review meetings in West Midnapore and Jhargram, followed by a political rally at Midnapore College grounds. She also met the leaders and functionaries to brief them ahead of the rural polls. Incidentally, there is a potential electoral impact since tribal voters account for about 5.8% of Bengal’s total population and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won five of the eight tribal-dominated seats across the districts of Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Birbhum, popularly called Junglemahal. However, Didi recovered her lost ground by winning 28 of the 54 tribal-dominated seats in south Bengal which includes four Assembly seats in Jhargram and 13 of 15 constituencies in West Midnapore in 2021. According to party insiders, Mamata is worried about the reports of infighting in Jhargram between her tribal MLA Dulal Murmu and a strongman of the district leadership, Ujjal Dutta. She is also worried about the absence of her most trusted lieutenant Anubrata Mondal, who was also looking after the party functioning in West Midnapore, besides Birbhum.