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BJP mum, allies declare party candidate in Darjeeling

BJP mum, allies declare party candidate in Darjeeling

Darjeeling: Despite the BJP remaining silent on their candidate for the Darjeeling constituency, both the allies — Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal faction) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) — have announced the name of Raju Bista as the BJP candidate for the Darjeeling constituency.

Incidentally, the BJP had fielded heavyweight candidates from the Darjeeling constituency in 2009 and 2014. Backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) both Jaswant Singh and SS Ahluwalia emerged victorious in 2009 and 2014, respectively. The BJP had managed to get a political toehold in Bengal through the Darjeeling constituency.

However, this time political equations have changed drastically. The GJM, the power centre of the Hills, has undergone a vertical split with the larger faction led by Binay Tamang and the other by Bimal Gurung. Gurung and his close confidants are however underground, implicated in multiple cases.

The GJM (Binay faction) has forged an alliance with the TMC while the GNLF and the GJM (Bimal) have rallied with the BJP.

The Hills will go to polls on April 18 and March 26 is the last date of filing nomination, still the BJP delayed the announcement of candidate for the Darjeeling constituency. The GNLF top brass have been camping in Delhi along with the GJM (Bimal) to come up with the name of candidate for Darjeeling.

The name of the candidate did not feature in the official list of the BJP but the GNLF and GJM (Bimal) declared Bista's name on their social network sites as the official BJP candidate and put his photographs.

The GNLF site invited supporters to accord a warm welcome to Bista who is scheduled to arrive at the Bagdogra Airport along with Mann Ghising, President, GNLF.

However, there is silence in the BJP camp. When asked regarding the candidature of Bista, Avijit

Roy Chowdhury, district president, BJP stated: "We have not got any official communication regarding this."

Thirty-nine-year-old Bista is a resident of Kangpok district of Manipur. He is the managing director of Surya Roshni Ltd.

The decision to field Raju Bista from Darjeeling has ruffled feathers in the rank and file of different political outfits. Swaraj Thapa, a close confidant of Bimal Gurung, tendered his resignation from the GJM (Bimal) party.

In a letter, Thapa has written: "I am tendering my resignation from all posts as well as the primary membership of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. I am doing so in strong protest against the idea of foisting a candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat who is a rank outsider, has little political background and absolutely no knowledge or interest about the issues regarding Darjeeling, including its core issue of Gorkhaland. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to find an able candidate for Darjeeling who can take up issues on behalf of the people of Darjeeling."

He further said that it was very unfortunate that the Hill leadership have become mere puppets in the hands of Delhi and Kolkata. "The BJP has taken advantage of the personal compulsion of our leadership," Thapa said.

Thapa, who was a journalist based in Delhi, hails from Darjeeling. He had joined the GJM under Gurung and worked in various capacities including advisor.

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