Darjeeling: Amidst the shrill demands for
a separate state of Gorkhaland, the three constituencies in the Darjeeling Hills go to polls in the first phase of West
Bengal Assembly elections on April 18 with three hill parties
vying for space.
Even though the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has the dominant
presence in the three seats of Darjeeling, Kurseong and
Kalimpong, the presence of central forces and strict vigil by
election observers has meant a level playing field for the
other parties that have fielded candidates.
With the GNLF and the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL)
also campaigning in full force, it may not be a cakewalk for
the Bimal Gurung-led GJM which is fighting the elections for
the first time, poll watchers said.
"We have our own candidates in the hills and we are
supporting opposition candidates in the Dooars Terai region as
our goal is a change and defeating the Left Front," GJM leader
Roshan Giri said here.
"We want the Left Front to go and there is no condition
attached to our support for the Trinamool Congress-Congress
alliance," Giri said, adding the issue of formation of a
separate state of Gorkhaland was not involved.
While ABGL also demands the formation of a separate state
of Gorkhaland, but with the rider that development of the
hills is foremost and the statehood can come in time, GNLF
supremo Subash Ghising is all for a Sixth Schedule status for
While CPI(M) has put up candidates in Darjeeling and
Kurseong, its Front partner CPI is contesting from Kalimpong.
The Congress has also put up candidates in all the three
constituencies, but not much is seen of these parties in
campaign for these seats.
Ghising, one-time mentor of Bimal Gurung, has entered the
hills after three years of exile imposed by Gurung and his
followers for allegedly betraying the interest of the hills
people by wanting the Sixth Schedule status instead of a
Several processions of GNLF have been seen in the hills at
Ghoom, which boasts of the highest railway station in the
world, and other places and Ghising has also held an
impressive rally at Mirik, a tourist destination about 40 kms
from Darjeeling town.