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Morcha eyes Dooars seats
Bimal Gurung: Ballot challenge

Darjeeling, March 1: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership in a message to the Bengal government said its influence was not confined to the Darjeeling hills alone but was spread over the Dooars as well.

In less than an hour of the Election Commission announcing the schedule for the Assembly elections in Bengal, Morcha leaders said that other than the three hill seats of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, the party would be a “decisive factor” in five Assembly constituencies in the Dooars.

However, party leaders refused to disclose whether the Morcha would contest on its own or support Independents.

“Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (the chief minister) had once told us to steer clear of the Dooars and Terai, saying that we had no base in these parts. But we proved our point by ensuring that Wilson Chapromary (an Independent candidate) won the Kalchini by-elections,” said Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri.

The party intends to “prove its point” in the Assembly polls as well but did not specify its strategy, saying it would reveal it only “at the last minute”.

“We have to teach the CPM a lesson because the government headed by it is responsible for killing three of our supporters at Sibchu,” a Morcha leader said.

In fact, addressing a meeting of party supporters at Kumani on Sunday, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had said: “Three of our supporters were killed and this is a God-sent opportunity for us to prove our point. In the coming elections we have to respond to the bullets with the ballot and ensure that the CPM is defeated at all cost.”

The seats where the Morcha believes it will be a decisive factor are Kumargram, Kalchini, Madarihat (as it includes Gorkha-dominated areas north of Birpara), Nagrakata and Malbazar.

Observers say the Morcha influence in Kumargram, Nagrakata and Malbazar is not decisive but the party will be a factor in Madarihat and Kalchini.

A section of the leadership said the party was also considering if its candidates should resign from their seats after winning, as the contest would be only to prove a point to the CPM.

“All that is being considered now,” a Morcha leader said. “A decision on this would be taken in the coming days.”

Another section in the Morcha feels that the party should have its representatives in the Assembly so that it can press for its demands in the House. “But we don’t know whether having a handful of representatives in the Assembly will make any difference,” he said.

Whatever the decision, the hill party is confident that it will have no problems winning the three hill seats. This was reflected in what Gurung said on Sunday. “Things are fine up in the hills and we need to concentrate only on the plains,” the Morcha chief had said.

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