DARJEELING ELECTION Gurkhas in Campaign

As the election approaches, agitating Gurkha Party members are busy selecting their candidates <br><P><STRONG>UMA KANTA KHANAL</STRONG> in Jhapa</P>

March 28, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 04 No.-19 Mar.25-2011 (Chaitra 11,2067)

The Gorkhas of Darjeeling agitating for their separate state, Gorkhaland, are now busy campaigning for the election of West Bengal's legislative assembly slated for April 18.


The agitating Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other minor parties are choosing their candidates. Every party in the hills has emphasized on the common candidacy in the elections. But they have not reached any agreement yet.


GJM has emphasized candidates with political background who have supported the movement for Gorkhaland but Revolutionary Marxist Party emphasizes the non-political candidates for whom the common ground could be obtained.


Former president of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Subash Ghising, who is still the president of Gorkha National Liberation Front, has announced he will take part in the state's legislative elections.


Darjeeling has 3 seats in the state's legislative assembly.


GNLF has decided to contest the assembly elections alone with the thrust on the execution of the Sixth Schedule agreement by fielding fresh faces in the three hill seats.


"Subash Ghising will soon commence the campaign for the elections," party sources say.


According to the party sources, the GNLF will not align with any anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha party or national party and will fight the elections alone.


The slogan of GNLF's campaign is the Sixth Schedule agreement signed by Ghising, the Centre and the Bengal government in December 2005. Ghising was forced to leave the hills on July 26, 2008, a day after a Nari Morcha supporter had fallen to bullets allegedly fired from the house of a GNLF leader in Darjeeling. The incident turned violent against GNLF leaders in the hills. The houses of Ghising and other leaders were torched by Morcha members, as the administration claims.


Trinmul Congress, which has a soft corner for the agitating Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has left the seats in Darjeeling for Indian National Congress. The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) has its slogan "more autonomy" for the hills. 
 

"Even the agitating party GJM has changed its mentality to the interim set up instead of Gorkhaland, there is no need to raise the demand of Gorkhaland through our party,” CPI (M)'s leader, Saman Pathak said. He said that his party would restore a democratic setup in the hills blaming that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had snatched the rights of people.


The ruling party has already decided its candidates for the elections. CPI (M) had said that there was no situation of election in the hills.


Up to now, the agitating GJM doesn't seem to have given the preference to the elections because the party has not decided who will contest in the elections on its behalf.


Morcha's spokesperson Dr. Harka Bahadur Chhetri said, "We will see till the last moment and will decide on the best way forward." He further said that his party will use this election to show the strength of hill people.


The people of Darjeeling had supported GJM in the last Lok Sabha elections and had elected Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate, Jaswant Singh. But this time GJM seems in no mood to support BJP.


It is reported that this is the hardest time for the ruling party CPI (M) to win the elections. One reason is the influence of other parties like Trinmul Congress led by Mamata Banerjee-the union railway minister in the state and the other is majority in the hills support the party which has the slogan for a separate state for the Indian Gorkhas, Gorkhaland.

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