The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New face to lead GNLF charge

Darjeeling, April 20: After days of speculation, the GNLF has finally decided to field 37-year-old Pranay Rai for the Darjeeling Assembly constituency.

There was no official announcement of Rai's candidature till this morning when he led a rally of GNLF supporters to file his nomination.

According to sources, the GNLF chief had finalised Rai's name four days ago and had directed his leaders to keep it a 'secret' till the last moment. Rai was recently elected as the Darjeeling municipality commissioner from Ward 18 by, polling almost 99 per cent of the total vote cast.

His nomination has caught the Opposition on the wrong foot as they were expecting a candidate from the SC or Tamang community. In the past few months, Ghisingh has antagonised the members of both these communities.

Soon after his nomination Rai said: 'My first aim is to win the elections. I want to be accessible to all hill people and hope to become a faithful soldier of our leader Subash Ghisingh.'

By nominating Rai, the GNLF has matched the credentials of PDF nominee Amar Lama. Both candidates are lawyers from Darjeeling, both are popular in town and both are first time representatives in the Darjeeling municipality.

The GNLF wanted a new face to ensure that that there is no anti-incumbency factor. The party has not lost the Darjeeling seat since 1988. It also believes that a youth leader will be more acceptable to the younger generation. Sources, however, maintain that Rai's ability to win the municipality election from the minority-dominated Ward 18 with such a thumping margin also prompted the GNLF chief to shortlist him as a potential candidate.

Meanwhile, the Congress (hills) has decided not to field candidates from any of the three hill constituencies in the district.

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