In hills, candidates cautious on display of inked middle finger

Amar Lama, JAP candidate, showed all five fingers, as did Mann Ghisingh, the GNLF president

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 20.05.19, 3:55 AM
  • Updated 20.05.19, 4:30 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Zimba after casting his vote in Darjeeling on Sunday Telegraph picture

In the Darjeeling Assembly byelection on Sunday, it was all about fingers.

Candidates seemed careful while displaying their inked middle finger for the fear of conveying the wrong message.

Darjeeling had last voted in the Lok Sabha polls on April 18 and voters’ index finger had been inked then. On Sunday, the authorities marked the middle fingers of voters, making it talking point through the day.

Binay Tamang, the candidate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha camp headed by him, and K.B. Wattar, CPM nominee, displayed their inked middle fingers and within moments, Tamang’s photo went viral. Tamang voted around 7am.

Then came the play of fingers. Amar Lama, JAP candidate who voted around 7.30am, showed all five fingers, as did Mann Ghisingh, the GNLF president.

Sarada Rai Subba, an Independent, first showed a single finger to change it to two fingers before settling for three in a matter of seconds.

Neeraj Zimba, BJP candidate, and Independent Swaraj Thapa played safe, displaying both the index and middle fingers. People were seen commenting that while Thapa’s gesture looked like a victory sign, Zimba’s gesture, some said looked like someone pointing a gun.

After the initial blooper, Tamang posed before photographers, flashing the victory sign.

While leaders were careful about their photographers, many voters brought in a “fun element” into play and posted pictures consciously displaying their inked middle finger.

Apart from this finger hiccup, the bypolls were largely “peaceful”. An altercation occurred between supporters of the GNLF and Morcha (Binay camp) at Gandhi Road and there was a skirmish between supporters of the two parties at Badamtam.

Tamang said: “I would like to thank the authorities and all parties as the polls were peaceful. I would also appeal to all to maintain the same peaceful atmosphere during counting day.”

Binay’s arch-rival Zimba, too, spoke on similar lines. “No major incidents were reported and the polls were peaceful by and large. We did hear about few instances of rigging.”

Independent Thapa and JAP nominee Lama agreed the polls were largely peaceful but added that they had come across discrepancies at some booths.