With the civic polls over in the Hills, it is time for retrospection in the political camps. For the first time in 30 years, the Trinamool Congress, a party with a base in the plains, managed to wrest the Mirik Municipality while the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha retained the Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik municipalities.
Darjeeling Municipality with 32 wards, Kurseong with 20, Mirik with nine and Kalimpong with 23 wards had gone to polls on the May 14. Darjeeling has a voter strength of 62,829; Kurseong has 20,748 voters; Mirik 8,875 voters and Kalimpong 49,403 voters.
Voting percentage stood at 77.9 percent in Mirik; 59.9 percent in Darjeeling; 71.8 percent in Kurseong and 65.16 percent in Kalimpong.
In Mirik, TMC emerged victorious in six seats while GJM won in three. In Darjeeling, GJM won 31 seats with TMC winning a single seat. In Kurseong, 17 seats fell in the GJM kitty with the TMC winning three seats. In Kalimpong, the GJM won 18 seats; TMC two seats while two seats were won by the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and a single seat went to a GJM-backed independent candidate.
In the four Municipal areas, Morcha had got a cumulative 43,890 votes; TMC and GNLF coalition 21,689 votes; Jan Andolan Party 8,358 votes; Independent candidates secured 8,964 votes and the CPI(M) managed to get a meagre 216 votes.
The vote percentage of the Morcha stood at 52.80 percent; TMC 26.09 percent; JAP 10.05 percent; Independent 10.78 percent and CPI(M) 0.25 percent.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the Municipality wards in Darjeeling, GJM had led in 30 seats and the TMC in two. In Kurseong, GJM had led in 16 seats and TMC in four. In Kalimpong, GJM had led in all 23 and in Mirik, GJM had led in all 9 seats.
In the 2016 Assembly elections, the TMC, GNLF and JAP had forged an alliance in the Hills. In that election in the Municipal areas, the GJM had led in 31 wards and the coalition in one in Darjeeling. In Kurseong, GJM led in nine and the coalition in 11. In Kalimpong, GJM in six and the coalition in 17 wards and in Mirik, GJM in five wards and the coalition in four.
"The figures clearly indicate that the Opposition votes got split which helped the GJM especially in Kalimpong. If JAP would have forged an alliance with us, then the coalition would have formed the board in Kalimpong too," stated N B Khawas, Working President, TMC, Darjeeling district (Hills). Polling figures show that in the case of an alliance between the JAP, TMC and the GNLF, the coalition would have won in 14 wards out of the 23 in Kalimpong.
"We had approached JAP a number of times for the coalition. Harka Bahadur Chettri had stated that he would get back to us. As he is one of the accused in the Madan Tamang case, he could have entered into a tacit understanding with the GJM thereby remaining silent on our coalition offer," alleged Aroop Biswas, TMC Observers for the Hills.
Meanwhil, the GJM held a meeting at the Gorkha Ranga Mancha in Darjeeling on Friday. "We have to work hard. People have given us the last chance and we have to prove our worth by developing the Hills," stated Bimal Gurung, the GJM President.