Ghatak seeks votes from lawyers in Siliguri on Wednesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, April 2: The Congress candidate for Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, Sujoy Ghatak, today said his rivals were campaigning solely on the emotive issue of Gorkhaland but he his plank would be development.
Ghatak today spoke to lawyers at the Siliguri court premises.
“Everybody, be it the BJP, Trinamul or the CPM, is seeking votes on Gorkhaland and speaking for or against it. It seems that other than the issue of the separate state, there is no other topic in the Darjeeling constituency for these candidates to speak about. We are against a campaign that panders to the sentiments of the people, whether in the hills or the plains. Instead, the Congress is asking for votes on the development plank in Darjeeling as well as across the country,” he told journalists after the interaction with the lawyers.
Ghatak was the third candidate after S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP and Bhaichung Bhutia of Trinamul to call on the lawyers in Siliguri and seek their votes.
“The Congress is speaking about development, the schemes implemented in the hills and efforts of the Centre to execute the Balasun drinking water scheme, 100 days’ work and other schemes. Our leaders and I tell voters about the Congress’ plans for development. They are also being told how the central government has acted responsibly, intervened on time and assisted the state in granting autonomy to the hills by forming the GTA Sabha.”
He added: “The Centre’s assurance of funds to the hill body is also being highlighted in the campaign. We are confident that people, whose primary requirement is development, will stand by us and ignore the claptrap of other parties over the statehood.”
In the 2004 general elections, Congress candidate Dawa Narbula had defeated his nearest rival, Moni Thapa of the CPM, in Darjeeling by securing 44.70 per cent votes with the support of the GNLF.
In 2009, Narbula was fielded again in the seat and he lost to Jaswant Singh of the BJP and finished third. The percentage of Narbula’s vote share came down to 19.43 per cent. Singh was backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Observers say the real battle this time is between Ahluwalia, who is supported by the Morcha, and footballer Bhaichung.
Ghatak today took a dig at the credentials of Bhaichung and Ahluwalia without taking names.
“I do not play football. Also, I would like to say that Darjeeling always welcomes visitors as tourism is an important sector that contributes to the development of the district. But I find it odd that a person is coming here as a tourist on the eve of the polls and contesting as a candidate. I am a local person who understands the aspirations and problems of the people in the Darjeeling Parliament constituency,” said Ghatak.