Lama with Rai in Darjeeling on Friday. (Suman Tamang)
Darjeeling, March 21: The CPRM today said it would support Mahendra P. Lama for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, a day after BJP nominee S.S. Ahluwalia had approached the hill party for alliance.
Today, CPRM leaders announced their decision at a press conference along with Lama, while the CPM candidate for the seat, Saman Pathak, was waiting with a letter seeking the party’s support.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-backed BJP nominee, Ahluwalia, had met the CPRM leaders here yesterday seeking support in an attempt to ensure that the hill votes were not divided. The CPRM leaders had said they would announce their decision on March 23.
“We had three options. One was to support a national party that clearly mentions the word Gorkhaland in its manifesto, second was to support a son of the soil who is committed to the statehood cause and the third was to field our own candidate,” said CPRM general secretary Taramani Rai. “During the meeting with Shri S.S. Ahluwaliaji, it became clear that the BJP would not use the word ‘Gorkhaland’ in its national poll manifesto. That is why we have decided not to support the BJP,” said Rai.
In 2009, the BJP had used words like, “long pending demands of the Gorkhas” would be “sympathetically” considered. This year, too, the party is expected to use similar words.
“We have decided to support Mahendra P. Lama because he has agreed to raise the issue of Gorkhaland in Parliament and if it goes unheard, he has agreed to intensify the statehood demand,” said Rai.
The CPRM is known to have a considerable support.
Lama, an Independent, said he had appealed to the Morcha and GNLF president Subash Ghisingh to support him. “We are not supporting the BJP because the earlier MP Jaswant Singh did not raise the (statehood) issue when Telangana was formed. It is time that the Morcha president also rethinks his decision of supporting the BJP.”
While the press conference was on, CPM leaders Saman Pathak, Ashok Bhattacharya, Jibesh Sarkar and others were waiting to meet the CPRM leaders. Asked about the visit, Pathak merely said: “This is just a courtesy visit.” But Bhattacharya said: “We had also come to seek his (Rai’s) blessing along with an approach letter.”
Rai was heard saying that Pathak was like a relative. “He does not need our support. His party has a lot of supporters.”