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Bhandari barb

Gangtok, March 9: The former chief minister, Nar Bahadur Bhandari, today said footballer Bhaichung Bhutia had taken a wrong decision by accepting the Trinamul Congress ticket to contest from outside his home state and he would not win the Darjeeling seat without espousing the cause of Gorkhaland.

The president of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad also said it would have been much better if Bhutia had opted to contest the Lok Sabha election from Sikkim.

“Bhutia is the son of soil. If he was keenly interested in politics, he could have chosen the Sikkim Lok Sabha seat to contest from. Any political party in Sikkim, including my outfit, would have given him the ticket. Accepting the Trinamul ticket to contest from Darjeeling was not a wise decision and it will not help him win the election,” Bhandari told a press conference here.

Asked what made him think so, the 73-year-old leader replied: “Gorkhaland is the need of the hour for the people of Darjeeling. Any candidate without the agenda of the statehood cannot win the election. This has been proved in the previous elections.”

He added: “Bhutia is an acclaimed sports personality and his involvement in Sikkim politics would have made more sense.”

Bhutia was declared the candidate for Darjeeling on March 5 by Trinamul, which is against the formation of Gorkhaland. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the predominant party in the hills, has ruled out support for the former Indian football captain.

Bhandari has always maintained that separate state is the fundamental right of the people in the hills.

Bhandari also said he might contest the coming Assembly polls, if the party didn’t find a suitable candidate for any seat and the Sikkim Sangram Parishad was ready for a tie-up with any party other than the SDF.