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GTA list of 32 but no Gurung

Darjeeling, July 5: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced the names of 32 GTA election nominees but kept alive the suspense on Bimal Gurung’s candidature.

The Morcha had already announced the names of four candidates earlier on separate days. That leaves nine seats open, one of which is Tukvar in Darjeeling, Gurung’s native place and the constituency that he represented in the DGHC.

Gurung himself announced the names of the 32 candidates at Darjeeling Gymkhana Club. Addressing supporters during the announcement, Morcha general secretary Giri requested Gurung to contest and take charge of the GTA Sabha.

“We want our party president to be in charge of the GTA. This is the wish of the entire hill people. The GTA will be headed by a chief and there is also a post for a deputy chief. To conduct the proceedings of the GTA Sabha, two councillors will be made the chairman and deputy chairman. The chairman and deputy chairman will function like the Speaker and deputy Speaker of Assembly,” Giri said.

The Morcha leader said the GTA was more powerful than the DGHC and the council that was demanded by the GNLF under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The candidate list doesn’t feature the names of some other senior leaders. Kalyan Dewan, one of the three vice-presidents of the Morcha, is the only prominent name to be announced as a candidate.

He will contest from Gitdabling-Nimbong constituency in Kalimpong subdivision. Its still not known if the other two vice-presidents, Pradeep Pradhan and R.P. Waiba, will be fielded in any of the nine segments left free after today’s announcement.

Another top leader who hasn’t been allotted a seat yet is general secretary Giri.

The names of assistant secretary Raju Pradhan, president of the Darjeeling Terai-Dooars Plantation Labour Union (tea garden trade wing of the Morcha) P.T. Sherpa and treasurer of the central committee Dawa Lama are also not mentioned.

Among the few office-bearers of the central committee who have been given the tickets to contest are assistant general secretary Binay Tamang and office secretary of the central committee Jyoti Kumar Rai. Tamang has been nominated for the Bloomfield-Risheehat and Rai for Nagar-Dhajia constituency.

Asha Gurung, a leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha and the wife of Bimal Gurung, will be fielded in Darjeeling 1.

The polls to the GTA Sabha will be held on July 29 and Monday is the last day for filing the nominations.

The biggest surprise in the candidate list is the name of a relatively unknown Champa Bivar, who will contest from Sukna-Panighatta. Announcing her name, Gurung said: “We will also have to keep in mind the interests of other communities and that is why we have decided to allot a seat to Champa Bivar, who represents the adivasi community.”

The party has so far given tickets to 12 Schedule Tribe community members and three Schedule Caste members. So far, the Morcha has given tickets to six women.

Another low profile leader whose name figured in the list was Taranga Pandit, a lawyer from Darjeeling. Pandit will file the nomination for Darjeeling 4.

Gurung said finalising the names of the candidates had been more difficult than the agitation days.

“For the past two to three days, I have been under tremendous pressure to choose the right candidate. I have decided to hold back the announcement of candidates for nine seats as I need to study these constituencies properly. I will need a day to study these constituencies,” said Bimal, adding “The last two to three days have been more difficult than the agitation days.”

Apart from the 45 elected representatives, the GTA Sabha will also have five nominated members.