SILIGURI: Putting uncertainty to an end, finally BJP Vice President Mr S S Ahluwalia arrives as BJP candidate from Darjeeling constituency considering it as a safe seat going by its history. But the cool hilly terrain many not now come out as cool as it was for BJP in 2009. Political warmth in last five years has caused large scale thawing of frozen rock solid support base of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha(GJM), the de-fecto term dictator in hills, and only strength of BJP with no practical footprint of its own in the local soil.
“We are happy to have such an important candidate to support. We can and we will ensure his win,” said Mr. Bimal Gurung, President GJM. Being in the same tune, “BJP is expecting glorious win from Darjeeling with support from GJM,” said BJP West Bengal state president Mr Rahul Sinha.
Going by the statistics, these expectations do not appear to be hollow. In 2009, BJP stalwart Mr. Jaswant Singh, supported by GJM, had 4,97,649 (51.5 per cent) votes against its immediate rival CPIM that had 2,44,360 (25.29 per cent) votes. With undisputed monopolistic supremacy in three hilly assembly constituencies(AC) under Darjeeling, GJM could ensure around 80 per cent of cast votes in favour of BJP. Naturally, despite only 4-5 per cent share in other four assembly constituencies in plains areas where GJM is stark minority, BJP could have victory with a margin of 2,53,289 votes . And that made Darjeeling a ‘safe seat’ for BJP.
But this monopolised footprint of GJM in hills is visibly shattered now. “Though from outside, but being a strong personality, Mr. Singh will press hard in Delhi in favour of our demand for Gorkhaland statehood for Darjeeling. So all should vote for him,” was the call of Mr. Gurung in 2009 that got overwhelmingly supported by people in hills with strong Gorkhaland sentiment.
But, as per record, Mr. Singh asked no question and took part in only 13 debates in last five years in parliament. Out of these, only two debates had pertinence to Darjeeling. That has developed resentment within GJM workforce against support to yet another ‘outsider’ candidate.
Support of many hilly ethnic groups like Tamang or Lepchas, strong support bases of GJM, is now in favour of TMC following promise of West Bengal chief minster to develop separate development boards for them. Dr Mahendra Lama, a noted academician and son of soil with significant popularity has also entered into the arena as independent candidate.
Most importantly, Mr S Pathak, a localite, hard core politician and known for his clean personality is now CPIM candidate. Naturally, the solid vote bank of GJM in three hilly assembly constituencies of total 6,11,665 votes will get fragmented this time. And in other four ACs of total 6,03,505 votes, BJP’s share can hardly go around 6 per cent where CPIM is still the strongest contender to be followed by TMC and Congress. Naturally, “Victory of Mr. Ahluwalia is not as sure this time as it was in 2009,” is now the view of political observers.
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