Chhatradhar Mahato, a former leader of Maoist-backed Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities(PCAPA), is likely to join the ruling Trinamool Congress soon, a party leader of West Midnapore district said.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had during his his visit to Lalgarh last week for a party programme had held an hour-long closed door meeting with Mahato.
Mahato, who was the most prominent leader of the Lalgarh Movement backed by Maoists, was set free in the beginning of this month by the West Bengal government following a reduction in his life term to 10 years by Calcutta High Court for his good conduct.
He was arrested on September 26, 2009 by the state CID from Jhargram district for an attempt on the life of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kantapahari area of West Midnapore district on November 2, 2008.
His likely joining the TMC could change the political equation in West Bengal's tribal Jangalmahal area, whch comprise the tribal districts of Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.
Speculations have been rife over the past few months that Mahato is likely to join TMC once he is set free.
Commenting on this, Chatterjee, who is also the state Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said he will be happy if Mahato joins the party.
"If he (Mahato) joins TMC, there is nothing to be unhappy about," he told reporters.
When asked, Mahato had said only time will tell.
His joining TMC will alter political equations in the tribal districts, where BJP has made deep inroads in the last two years and bagged all the seven parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha polls, the West Midnapore TMC leader said.
"Chatradhar has a huge mass base among the tribals. If he joins the party it would make a huge difference to the party in the 2021 assembly polls of the state," he said.
The BJP state leadership, however, declined to attach much importance to the development.
"We are not bothered about this development. It has proved that the TMC and Maoists had joined hands to oust the CPI(M) (from power in West Bengal in 2011). Now they are again joining hands to counter BJP," the saffron party leader Pratap Banerjee said.
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