The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (Bimal Gurung faction) today named the election candidates for the three Hill Assembly seats. Amid a meeting at Malidhura in Tukvar near Darjeeling town, the party also released its manifesto for the upcoming elections.
While the party has fielded PT Ola in the Darjeeling Assembly constituency, Norbu G Lama was named for Kurseong and Dr Ram Bhujel as the candidate for Kalimpong.
Announcing the candidature, Mr Gurung also appealed to all political parties in the Hills, like the TMC, GNLF, CPRM and ABGL, to unite.
“We have to make the BJP understand the importance of local parties. I appeal to parties here to work together. We have to save our local parties,” said Mr Gurung.
While Mr Ola hails from Ghoom here and is a lawyer by profession, he was earlier the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabashad from the Ghoom-Jorebunglow area. He was also once the Darjeeling Municipality Chairman. Mr Lama, on the other hand, is from Takdah and runs a school and a resort. He was also a GTA Sabashad from the Takdah- Glenburn segment. Dr Bhujel, the Kalimpong candidate, hails from Hilltop and was also a GTA Sabashad in the past.
Mr Gurung, in his speech, highlighted the Kurseong seat the most and said, “Kurseong is a sensitive place and we should take it as a challenge. We have to work hard there and see that we win, along with the other three seats.”
Mr Gurung was probably referring to the popularity that the leader of the other Morcha camp Anit Thapa enjoys there.
The party manifesto has 34 issues, among which are a permanent political solution for the Hill, Terai and Dooars region, for which the party said right steps would be taken towards Gorkhaland, tribal status for 11 communities, parja-patta for those living in tea gardens, cinchona plantation and DI Fund area, threetier panchayat in Hills, up-gradation of Darjeeling Municipality to a corporation, jobs and different facilities for families of martyrs.
Both camps of the Morcha are an alliance of the TMC, but are fielding their own candidates. The Morcha (Binoy Tamang camp) has already announced the names of its candidates in the three Hill seats. With TMC supremo Mamta Banerjee not giving a clear statement on the three Hill seats, maintaining that they have left it for her “friends,” it has brought about confusion among TMC supporters as to whom they should support.
Following this uncertainty, a surprise last moment development came from the TMC (Hills) youth wing today, with it announcing the name of its Darjeeling youth wing secretary Ramesh Kadaria as an Independent candidate who would contest the polls in the Darjeeling Assembly seat.
The Darjeeling sub-division TMC (Hills) youth president Dinesh Gurung said, “The youth wing of our party wanted a candidate from their own party with our main objective being to see Mamta Banerjee as the Bengal CM again. In light of this, when she has left the seats in the Hills open with both the camps of the Morcha maintaining that they have no concern about the TMC (Hills), we decided to field our own candidate. Our candidate will win the elections after which we will support Mamata Banerjee.”
“Moreover, one of the main reasons for us fielding a candidate is to save our existence in the Hills and show that we exist here,” he said.
On the other hand, Mr Kadaria said, “We waited a lot for directions of our higherups and we had to take this decision in absence of that.”
According to the youth wing, the decision had been taken without consultation with the TMC (Hills) central committee.
When contacted, TMC (Hills) president LB Rai said he had no information on the development.