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17 Darjeeling councillors switch to BJP

The move comes as part of the BJP’s strategy to control the civic bodies of Bengal

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 9.06.19, 12:34 AM
  • Updated 9.06.19, 4:07 AM
  • a min read
Councillors of Darjeeling municipality after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, in New Delhi, on June 8, 2019. (PTI)

The BJP on Saturday managed to get on board 17 councillors of Darjeeling municipality and announced that it would soon take control of the hill civic body, the claim dealing another blow to Trinamul and the Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

The move comes as part of the BJP’s strategy to control the civic bodies of Bengal, most of which are being run by Trinamul, by engineering defections.

“Seventeen councillors, who have expressed no confidence in the chairperson of the Darjeeling municipality have joined the BJP. Their switch will help us control the civic body,” BJP leader Mukul Roy said in Delhi where the party paraded the councillors.

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya and Darjeeling MP Raju Bista were also present.

Leaders of the Binay Tamang faction of the Morcha declined comments on the latest development.

“We will sit and discuss the issue and then comment on it,” said a leader.

In the Darjeeling municipality, the Binay Tamang faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had complete control even a month ago. After the BJP won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat for the third time, a group of 17 councillors —- there are 32 councillors in the civic body — wrote to chairperson Prativa Rai Tamang, seeking a meeting to table a no-confidence motion against the present board. Prativa, however, said four-five of the 17 councillors were “held hostage”.

The councillors asserted from an undisclosed location that they were together and that there was no difference among them.