The meeting between the Morcha and the other parties in Darjeeling on Wednesday. (Suman Tamang)
Darjeeling, March 23: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said its “frontal organisations and supporters” wanted the party to field its own candidates in the three hill seats, an indication that the idea of “consensus” nominees has been dropped.
The Morcha today held a meeting with the CPRM, the Congress and the BJP at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Hall to convey its stand. All the three parties along with four others had been invited to a Morcha meeting on March 18, where the issue of fielding “consensus candidates” was discussed.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said after the meeting: “Our frontal organisations and our supporters are of the opinion that the party should field its own candidates. We are looking into this elections as an opportunity to strengthen the Gorkhaland voice and we make a call to all (political and apolitical organisations) to strengthen this voice.”
Giri refused to elaborate, claiming that party president Bimal Gurung would address the candidature issue during a meeting with party supporters tomorrow.
But the CPRM said it was still hopeful that the issue of the consensus candidate would move forward.
Sawan Rai, a central committee leader of the CPRM, said: “The Morcha said it wanted to field its candidates in the three hill seats. We told them that we stick to our stand on the need to field a consensus candidate. As per the March 18 meeting a committee comprising other political parties should have been formed but this has not taken place.”
The CPRM will wait for a final decision from the Morcha till March 26. “We will announce our stand the next day. I do not think that the issue of a consensus candidate is a closed chapter yet,” said Rai.
The BJP, which hardly has any support base in the hills, said it would support the Morcha candidates. “This is the stand of the district committee and we are confident that it will be accepted by the state and the national committees as well,” said Bhanshi Dhar Mittal, convener of the BJP district committee. Incidentally, the BJP’s Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat riding piggyback on Morcha support.
The Congress has not reacted yet. Asked if the issue of a consensus candidate was a closed chapter, Jyoti Kumar Rai, a central committee leader of the Morcha said: “We had convened a meeting with all the political parties to understand their viewpoint. They had raised the issue of a consensus candidate but a final decision was not taken.”
In the Dooars, the Morcha has decided to support two candidates — one of them, sitting Independent MLA Wilson Champramary in Kalchini. The Morcha had supported Champramary when he contested the by-elections in 2009.
“The Morcha will support the Progressive People’s Party candidate for the Nagarkata seat. We will contest from the Madharihat seat but the candidate will be from the Adivasi community. The decision on Kumargram, Mal and Dhupguri will be announced in three days,” said Giri.
The PPP is a breakaway faction of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and was formed about two years ago.