The BJP’s Darjeeling candidate, SS Ahluwalia, flashes the victory sign outside the Bagdogra airport on Wednesday. On his right is Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, March 19: The BJP’s Darjeeling candidate, S.S. Ahluwalia, today said he would try to fulfil the “expectations and aspirations” of people in the constituency and accused the state government of trying to disrupt the party’s Lok Sabha election campaign.
Ahluwalia, who is backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, arrived at Bagdogra airport from New Delhi this afternoon.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri and Darjeeling district BJP leaders welcomed him, amid loud cheers by 100-odd supporters of both the parties.
“I am aware that people living in this region have certain expectations and aspirations. If I win, I will be able to persuade the government, to be formed in the near future, to fulfil these expectations and aspirations. Since Independence, neither the state government nor the Centre has done anything major for the development of Siliguri, Darjeeling and the Dooars. An MP should religiously take up the problems and issues of people in his area and if I get a chance, I will surely not shatter their hopes,” Ahluwalia, who is also one of the vice-president of the BJP, told a press conference here.
Asked if the “expectations and aspirations” meant a separate state of Gorkhaland as demanded by the Morcha, the BJP nominee refrained from a direct reply.
“Back in 2009, we had promised in our election manifesto that the demand for Gorkhaland, which is not unconstitutional, would be sympathetically considered. This time again, we will include the same promise in the manifesto. Let us make it clear that for good governance, the BJP has always been in favour of smaller states. We had formed Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand without any bloodshed. We also supported the formation of Telangana, though there was bloodshed there,” he said.
Ahluwalia, whose main rival in the fray is footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, backed by the Trinamul Congress, attacked the Mamata Banerjee government for its alleged bid to scuttle the BJP campaign.
“We were supposed to hold a workers’ meeting in Siliguri after my arrival today. But it could not be held as our party was denied permission. Yesterday, I got a phone call from Chandan Mitra (the BJP candidate for Hooghly) who said the party had been stopped from putting hoardings by the administration. What do all these incidents indicate?” asked Ahluwalia.
The BJP leader also said the recent arrest of Morcha leader Bimal Dorjee went against the GTA agreement.
“It is clearly mentioned in the GTA agreement that all cases, except those related to murder, registered during the statehood agitation will be withdrawn. But recently, the state government has acted on old cases and arrested Morcha leaders. We will soon meet the Election Commission officials and bring these issues to their notice. Interestingly, those Morcha workers and leaders who are now in Trinamul are being spared, though they were named in several police cases. This is sheer bias,” said the BJP leader.
Asked about current Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh’s “rare visits” to his constituency in the past five years, Ahluwalia said: “I am not here to assess his performance but want to say that the Morcha has reposed faith in us. If we had been elected to power in 2009, a lot of problems and issues associated with Darjeeling would have been resolved during these years…. Siliguri and Darjeeling are not new places for me. During the 2009 polls, I was here.”
He said Narendra Modi and Jaswant Singh might visit Darjeeling for his campaign.
En route to Darjeeling, Ahluwalia stopped in places like Kurseong, Sonada and Ghoom where he was welcomed by huge crowds of Morcha supporters.
He arrived in Darjeeling this evening and said he would file his nomination on March 24.
Sources in the BJP and the Morcha said Ahluwalia would hold talks with GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling tomorrow.