DARJEELING: In spite of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) high command order of not contesting the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections, at least 14 candidates have started campaign in the Hills.
Their contention is that they are yet to receive any formal directive from the party high command in Kolkata. "We have heard about the TMC high command order from the media. But we are not yet told anything by the top rung leaders in Kolkata," said Milan Dukpa, who is contesting from the Ghoom-Jorebungalow constituency in Darjeeling subdivision against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's P T Ola.
This act by the candidates, according to some observers, is also because they have felt let down. "Just imagine the beating, a candidate's morale has taken when told to withdraw his name in the last minute to please the GJM. These candidates had taken a huge risk at the first place to file their nominations given the uneasy atmosphere," said an observer, who didn't want to be quoted.
Dukpa, though, has said that his reason for contesting the polls was primarily to show the existence of opposition parties in the Hills. "I am contesting for democracy and peace in the Hills which are missing since years. Besides, if we win in even a couple of seats, then that would boost the morale of the people," he said.
Most of the TMC candidates are resorting to SMS campaign given that the party has decided not to contest the polls and no canvassing funds in hands. "Along with me, some other candidates are doing SMS campaign to appeal for votes. In fact, we are getting good response from people," said Dukpa, who is also the TMC town committee president.
GJM is uncontested in 28 of the total of 45 constituencies. But elections will be held for 17 seats in the three Hills subdivisions on July 29. GJM is expected to sweep the polls given that the CPM has withdrawn its candidates and other hills-based political parties have boycotted the election.
In fact, the rebel TMC candidates have also decided to have their polling agents in the booths that go to the polls. "We will have our own polling agents in the booths in some constituencies. We don't want to give the GJM a cakewalk as we are sure people will want to vote for us," said a TMC candidate from Kalimpong seeking anonymity. Sources said that TMC candidates in Gorubathan and Algarah-Dalapchand in Kalimpong stand a good chance.