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SC, ST seek Morcha seal for Lama

Darjeeling, July 16: The Darjeeling District Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Joint Action Committee will write to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung requesting him to support academician Mahendra P. Lama as the Lok Sabha candidate from Darjeeling.

The decision was taken at a a joint action committee meeting here on Sunday.

The SCs and STs make up 43 per cent of the hill population and their support for Lama is bound to put the Morcha under pressure.

The current Darjeeling MP is the BJP’s Jaswant Singh.

“The joint action committee has decided to approach Bimal Gurung, requesting him to support Mahendra P. Lama on the ground that Lama is not just a well-known academic but an institution in himself. He is also a son of the soil,” said Hem Baraily, general secretary of JAC.

Lama, a Darjeeling resident, is based in Delhi. He is the pro-vice-chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University. He was the founding vice-chancellor of Sikkim University till 2012 and member of the national security advisory board.

“I will approach all parties, including Morcha and leaders of different communities. I do not have plans to pull down the parties in power but want to work with all as my agenda and that of other parties (from hills) is the same with regard to Gorkhaland,” said Lama, who is an ST.

He said he would contest as an Independent and consensus candidate. “We will also seek support from the plains.”

Baraily, who expressed gratitude to the Morcha for adopting a resolution for the SCs and STs in GTA jobs on Saturday, said: “We will wait for 20-25 days for his (Gurung’s) reaction after which we will take a stand on the issue,”

A Morcha leader said: “We have not discussed the issue.”