Hill TMC skirts statehood issue in campaign agenda
Darjeeling, 11 Mar 2014: The hill unit of the Trinamool Congress has started campaigning for Bhaichung Bhutia, the party’s election candidate from the Darjeeling parliamentary seat, albeit by steering clear of the emotive issue of statehood and instead opting to emphasise on development.
The TMC is strongly against any calls for a division of Bengal, but the underlying current in its hill unit flows in favour of statehood. Amid such a backdrop, the hill TMC is virtually perched under the proverbial Damocles’ sword.
Sharada Subba, general secretary of the hill TMC women’s committee, today refused to be drawn into the contentious issue of statehood while interacting with journalists in spite of repeated prodding.
She said, “It has become a tradition in the hills to use the statehood issue as a tool during elections. No single leader or a timeframe can be marked to achieve statehood as it is a continuous process. On the other hand, elections come every five years and now we must break the traditional trend of demanding statehood when issues such as development are the need of the hour.”
The general secretary also referred to the long years of bonhomie shared between people of the hills and the plains.
“Right from the pre-independence days to the present, we have bonded with the Bengali people, be it Rash Behari Bose or Subash Chandra Bose. We cannot ignore the ties we have with the plains and must ensure they are respected and sustained for the benefit of the entire region,” remarked Subba.
The GJM has ruled out support to the TMC candidate for the Darjeeling seat, ostensibly because of the latter’s unilateral decision to field Bhaichung without consultations. The Bimal Gurung-led party has once again chosen to side with the BJP.
Attempting to discard the “outsider” tag labeled on Bhaichung, Subba said, “The Gorkha National Liberation Front made us support Congress candidate Indrajit Khullar in the eighties and again in 2009, we were asked to support BJP veteran Jaswant Singh. Were they not outsiders? But Bhaichung is one of us as we share the same traditions and lingo. We feel our candidate is better placed to understand the problems of the hills for tabling them in Parliament.”
According to the TMC leader, the GJM’s decision of not to support Bhaichung is a blessing in disguise as her party has got the opportunity to showcase its popularity in the hills.
“We would have won easily with the GJM’s support. But we don’t have any qualms as the outcome of the election will prove which party is more popular, as we will definitely win,” claimed Subba.
Meanwhile, the GJM delegation in Delhi headed by party chief Bimal Gurung today met BJP stalwart LK Advani and discussed poll strategies.
“Along with election strategies, we also discussed the urgent need to consolidate national security in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts as they fall in a geo-politically sensitive region. The need to ensure the safety and security of the Gorkhas living in India was also placed before the BJP leaders,” informed Gurung on his social networking site page, adding no candidature list has come up so far for as several issues are yet to be finalised. (EOIC)
Can do without GJMM: Baichung
Siliguri, 11 March: Trinamul Congress candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, Baichung Bhutia, today said he will not need the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) support to win the election.
“For the past six-seven months, Trinamul Congress has strengthened its base in the Hills. Trinamul is the number one party in the Hills and it will be the number one in terms of securing the votes there. We are ready to fight the polls alone and I am confident of a win,” Mr Bhutia said, when asked whether he was hopeful of winning the polls without the GJMM support.
He, however, said his party has kept the doors open for any party, who wants peace, development and democracy, to join in.
Taking a dig at the GJMM-BJP poll alliance, Mr Bhutia said the sitting Darjeeling MP (without naming Jaswant Singh) had left the people disappointed.
“Everyone knows the performance of the BJP MP in the Parliament. He did not play any role in the development of the region. But I am very much familiar with the affairs in the Hills as I regularly visit the place. I understand the language and the culture, which is a difficult task for an outsider. The BJP candidate will have a tough time on this,” he said.
Mr Bhutia also expressed hope that Trinamul Congress would play a major role at the Centre.
“The government at the Centre is expected to be formed with Trinamul Congress support. Bengal had been neglected for the past several years.As such, we need to have all the 42 Trinamul MPs in Parliament from Bengal,” he said.
Trinamul candidate for Jalpaiguri, Bijoy Chandra Barman, also shared the dais with Mr Bhutia. State party presidenent Subrata Bakshi and north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb were also present in the campaign.
Hill TMC starts strengthening youth wing
PRADIP LOHAGUN, KALIMPONG, 11 Mar 2014: The hill unit of the Trinamool Congress has begun efforts to strengthen its youth wing ahead of the general election. The TMC Youth Kalimpong sub-division committee was today formed during a meeting held at the Shyamdevi Bhawan in Thakurbari. The newly formed committee has Pranay Thulung as its president, Puskar Thakuri as general secretary and Feroz Pradhan, Yakin Lamchiney, Yovan Sherpa and Rajesh Garg as the joint secretaries.
Hill TMC youth president Chewang Bhutia said the party will soon form such committees across the three sub-divisions. Following this, the party will start campaigning for election candidate Bhaichung Bhutia, he said.
Speaking on Bhaichung’s candidature, the hill TMC leader said he may be from Sikkim, but the former football captain has a lot of charisma to compete with any leader from the hills. Bhutia claimed the TMC candidate is rate far above veteran leader Jaswant Singh and prospective BJP candidate Bappi Lahiri. Even if Bhaichung fails to win, he can still usher in several development schemes in the Darjeeling hills under the aegis of the TMC, claimed Bhutia.
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