Siliguri, 10 March: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today supported Baichung Bhutia’s ‘personal decision’ to seek support from Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung. A section of leaders in the Darjeeling Hill Trinamul have objected to Mr Bhutia’s decision to reach out to the GJMM for a possible tie-up during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“I support Baichung for his decision to call up Bimal Gurung. A candidate can approach all persons who belong to other political parties. We should not be critical over whether his phone call was responded to positively or negatively,” Mr Deb told a press conference here.
The former Indian football captain telephoned Mr Gurung on Saturday and sought the latter’s support in his poll bid in Darjeeling. Mr Gurung refused to support Mr Bhutia and today, finally decided to “continue” its “relations” with BJP.
Reacting to GJMM’s decision to support BJP in the polls, Mr Deb said: “There is no chance of an alliance with GJMM. Being a political party, it can go along with any political party. We do not bother about the GJMM decision. But it is evident that the GJMM will be once again criticised for supporting BJP.”
“Everybody knows that a section of the people put up ‘wanted’ posters of Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, who, according to them, went missing (soon after the 2009 elections) in Darjeeling Hills. Despite Mamata Banerjee’s top priority to develop Darjeeling, if they go with BJP, we will go it alone and campaign in the Hills from 12 March by highlighting development plans for the people,” Mr Deb said. He added that he is confident about Mr Bhutia winning the seat.
Acording to him, around 400 families from Savoke-10 Mile will join Trinamul Congress, while several leaders belonging to different political parties in Matigara and Naxalbari will follow suit.
A senior Congress activist, Ashok Bhagat, from ward no 5 in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation joined Trinamul today, he said.
In another context, Mr Deb said his party has constituted a north Bengal Economic Forum, where around 30 persons, including 25 chartered accountants, joined today.
Baichung pitches for development in Hills
Gangtok, 10 March: The ‘son of the soil’ was back in Sikkim, and this time around he was not the much-loved soccer star.
Trinamul Congress candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency and former captain of the Indian football team, Baichung Bhutia, today held his first press conference as a politician in his hometown here.
A warm welcome accorded to him by the Sikkim Pradesh Trinamul Congress (SPTMC). Mr Bhutia faced the media persons, eagerly waiting to hear him out at the SPTC office in Tadong near Gangtok.
“I will never discriminate between the people of the Hills (Darjeeling) and my state Sikkim,” he said.
Mr Bhutia also sought the support of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front as well as the opposition parties in helping Trinamul candidate win in the upcoming general elections.
“As Sikkim has only one MP each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the state’s voice on important issues often goes unheard in Parliament, but if SPTMC sends an MP from Sikkim, his voice will automatically resound in the Parliament along with the voices of 42 other MPs of the TMC,” Mr Bhutia said. “I will work sincerely, honestly and in a transparent manner for the people of the Hills,” he added.According to him, his target in Darjeeling will be to maintaining peace, development and creation of opportunities.
On allegations that he is no longer the son of the soil since he is fighting the polls from a different state, Baichung said they are all ‘political play for the personal gain of a few political parties.”“Stepping into politics happened all of a sudden. I myself was not aware of TMC giving me the ticket and I came to know of about this through the media,” he said. “TMC is a party that is trying to bring about development in the Hills and what the Hills needs at the moment is development,” he added.
“The belt of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling has been neglected since long. The (Gorkhaland) agitation started in the Hills because of the lack of opportunities, he said.
At the press meet, Mr Bhutia was accompanied by TMC District President Bhupendra Lepcha.
Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha supporters from the Sikkim Chalak Morcha Youth, and 30 other people joined TMC today to support Mr Bhutia in his fight in the upcoming elections.
‘GJMM’s deCiSion may weaken TMC chances’
Gautam deb says GJMM has made a blunder in supporting BJP
Siliguri, 10 March: Following the decision of Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to support Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the three Lok Sabha constituencies of Darjeeling, Alipurduwar and Jalpaiguri, the prospects of Trinamul Congress candidates in these three areas have gone bleak, feel leaders across party lines in north Bengal.
The leaders say this situation has emerged even though GJMM president Bimal Gurung has “lost absolute control” over the Gorkha community in this region.
Leaders of the other political parties also predict that the vote bank in the Darjeeling parliamentary segment, including the three Assembly constituencies, will be divided among other mainstream political parties and that the GJMM-backed BJP candidate has his task cut out. Trinamul Congress candidate Baichung Bhutia and others, including CPI-M candidate Saman Pathak and Independent candidate Mahendra P Lama are also very much in the fray, while the Congress is yet to name its candidate there.
“GJMM’s decision to support BJP has apparently narrowed down the Trinamul candidate’s prospects in the Hills, but this does not mean that the BJP candidate will be able to taste win easily because Bimal Gurung does not have supreme control over all Gorkha people,” a senior Congress leader, Debaprasad Roy, said.
“So we should not expect election results similar to the ones in 2009 when Jaswant Singh was elected from Darjeeling,” he added.
According to him, the party high command will soon declare the name of its candidate for the Darjeeling seat. North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said GJMM’s decision to support BJP is aimed at dividing Bengal.
“My party candidate Baichung Bhutia will contest from Darjeeling with an undivided Bengal as his theme. People from both the Hills and the plains will favour us. GJMM no longer has the support base in the Hills and even in the plains (four Assembly segments) that it enjoyed earlier,” Mr Deb said. However, All India Gorkha League vice-president Laxman Pradhan said: “GJMM has made a blunder in supporting BJP for the Darjeeling seat. Since GJMM will run the GTA in association with the Mamata Banerjee-led state government, Gurung should have extended support to the Trinamul Congress candidate.”
“If the poll results go against Mamata Banerjee, she will take revenge against GJMM, and the Hill people would ultimately suffer. The Morcha now has no supreme control over the people in the Hills,” he added.
“Looking at it through a narrow mind, GJMM’s decision to support BJP will go in favour of our two candidates in Alipurduar and Jalpaigur. But politically speaking, we cannot encourage such support to BJP because we are fighting to prevent BJP from coming to power,” the Jalpaiguri district Left Front convernor and the CPI-M district secretary Krishna Banerjee said. “We will wait and see how the political trend unfolds. We will contest two LS seats and we are confident of our candidates retaining two seats in Jalpaiguri district,” he said.
The Hill-based Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists spokesperson Gobin Chhetri said: “CPRM will not support the Trinamul candidate and the GJMM-backed BJP candidate may not be able to bag a remarkable number of votes.”
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