The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Frenzy spills on to streets

Darjeeling, Sept. 23: They voted throughout the day and when the voting lines closed at 6pm the hill people burst out in spontaneous celebration. Such was their belief in Prashant Tamang.

People from Gangtok and Nepal thronged Chowrastha, the main promenade in the hill town, and started singing and dancing with residents here, confident that Prashant would emerge victorious.

Such was the frenzy that within an hour from the voting lines being closed, rallies started coming out across the town. A huge procession of motorcycles and cars started doing the rounds and perhaps for the first time people did not sit glued before their TV sets to watch Prashant perform.

Tenzing Khambachay, the president of the Prashant Fan Club, was almost mobbed by people congratulating him.

“They are calling me from Singapore crying over the news. We are all indebted to the people who supported and helped us,” he said.

The driving force behind the euphoria was emotional. “We must dedicate this victory to those people who parted with their day’s earning and voted for Prashant. Even the hearing and speech impaired have actually come and helped us. The people of the hills have shown that they have hearts of gold.”

The celebrations flowed from Sikkim to the Dooars. “Never before have the people celebrated so hard. This is Dusshera for us and the celebration will continue for long,” said Aditya Tamang, a resident of Toongsoong, where Prashant lived before shifting to Calcutta.

“His victory gives strength to our community,” said Satish Gurung, an employee of Darjeeling Gymkhana Club.

Darjeeling superintendent of police Rajesh Subarno, who camped the entire day in a makeshift control room in the heart of the town, was also emotional.

“This is one of the happiest moments in my life,” said Subarno. Though the celebration was frenzied, there were no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the hill town, he added.

In Gangtok, cries of Prashant zindabad rent the air and crackers lit up the sky. Celebrations started more than an hour before the Indian Idol finale began as news spread that Prashant had won the title.

Titanic Park — which was the scene of hectic campaigning through the day — turned into a party zone as the sun went down. People gathered there later in the night for the final showdown telecast on a giant screen. As news of Prashant’s victory spread, people came out of their homes and danced in the streets.

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