With the enclave residents all set to vote for the first time since Independence, the new voters are being aggressively wooed by various political parties, who are taking credit for resolving the 68-year-old border dispute.
“It is our government which has resolved this enclave problem. None of the previous state governments could address the same. But we had solved this problem and given you the rights,” Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said at various rallies in Cooch Behar district of the East Indian state of West Bengal.
Banerjee’s comments are echoed by party’s district President Rabindranath Ghosh who promised to usher in development if TMC won in Cooch Behar. The BJP, which is heading the NDA government at the Centre, also took the credit of resolving the enclave problems.
“It was our government at the Centre that took the initiative and solved the problem. We have
been with the people of enclaves from the very beginning and our government has been very proactive,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha said.
The 51 enclaves are spread across Dinhata, Mekliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Toofanganj Assembly constituencies, with over 14864 residents has over 9776 registered voters. The six Assembly constituencies were Mekhliganj (584), Sitalkuchi (1980), Sitai (1362), Dinhata (5605), Natabari (0) and Toofanganj (9).
Out of 9540 eligible voters 9209 enrolled themselves to vote on May 5 in 41 polling stations. There were 567 more voters among the 922 people in the settlements in Cooch Behar.
In the Sitalkuchi and Sitai assembly constituencies, where TMC and their then alliance partner Congress had won with a slender margin of 257 and 1577 votes in last assembly polls, the votes of enclave dwellers could play a vital role as well as in Dinhata.
Striking a different note, the CPI(M), however,refuted the claims by TMC and BJP and said that both the parties had stalled the enclave exchange during the UPA rule.
“Both the parties have stalled the process of enclave exchange during UPA rule. It was the rehabilitation package that ensured that the state agreed to give a nod to the enclave exchange,”
CPI(M) Politburo member Mohammed Salim said.
“We from the very beginning had stood by the cause of the people residing in enclaves. And it was the Left who have been fighting for their cause,” Salim said. The Congress too pooh poohed the claims of Banerjee and BJP.