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Trinamul at GNLF door

- Support plea for Bhutia after Morcha backs BJP

Siliguri, March 18: The Trinamul Congress leadership has approached the GNLF to seek support for its candidate in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat after the largest party in the hills, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, decided to support the BJP nominee.

Sources said, in the past one week, Trinamul had approached GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh and other party leaders several times with a request to support Darjeeling candidate Bhaichung Bhutia and refrain from fielding anyone for the seat.

“Trinamul leaders are apprehensive of losing a considerable portion of hill votes because of the party’s sour relationship with the Morcha, the latter’s support to the BJP and appeal to voters via Facebook and other social media sites to support S.S. Ahluwalia,” a GNLF leader said. “They are approaching our party, as even today, we have the highest number of anti-Morcha voters with us. Our chairman Subash Ghisingh and other leaders have been approached by Trinamul repeatedly. We are yet to take a decision.”

“Of the six lakh-odd voters in the hills, two lakhs are with us and they will vote for the candidate we support. We are weighing the pros and cons as this is a good opportunity for the GNLF to revive its base in the hills and get closer to Trinamul. Ever since the party came to power in the state, there has been no chance for us to ally with Trinamul as it was closer to the Morcha,” the leader said.

The Congress is also known to have approached GNLF.

Nima Lama, the convenor of the GNLF’s Kurseong branch committee, said: “We are waiting for the final decision of our chairman and want to reiterate that there are equal prospects of fielding our own candidate or supporting the candidate of any other political party. Some parties sought support from us but it is Subash Ghisingh who will take the final decision.”

Sources said Ghisingh might visit the hills soon. He stays at a rented flat in Matigara near Siliguri.

“The GNLF definitely has a support base but because of lack of political activities, except few public meetings in the foothills, the party has lost its relevance in hill politics,” said an observer. “But the sudden change in Trinamul-Morcha relation and the sidelining of the Congress in the hills, which prompted these two parties to approach the GNLF.”

Trinamul insiders said the party had sought GNLF’s support. “The GNLF has been approached by us to ensure that Bhaichung Bhutia secures a good number of votes in the hills. The party has a steady support base in the three hill subdivisions. We are putting in all efforts to ensure a lead for Bhaichung. To prevent the BJP from getting a huge margin, we need block votes from the hills. The GNLF can be an ideal ally to help us get such votes.”

Minister Gautam Deb said: “Subash Ghisingh is a senior political leader. We hope he will take a rational and positive decision.”