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Panchayat elections: Bid for joint fight against Trinamul Congress, BGPM in Darjeeling hills

Paucity of time for nomination filing and GNLF’s objections have emerged as major stumbling blocks to grand alliance

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 10.06.23, 04:30 AM
Bimal Gurung and Ajoy Edwards during their meeting in Darjeeling on Friday.

Bimal Gurung and Ajoy Edwards during their meeting in Darjeeling on Friday. The Telegraph

Hectic parleys are being held to stitch together a grand alliance of parties in the Darjeeling hills for the coming panchayat elections against the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) and the Trinamul Congress which will in all probability fight the polls together.

However, the paucity of time for the nomination filing and the GNLF's objections have emerged as major stumbling blocks to the grand alliance.


Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and Hamro Party (HP) chief Ajoy Edwards met here on Friday to draw up plans to jointly fight panchayat samiti and gram panchayat polls. The rural polls had last been held in the hills in 2000.

“Talks have started to forge a grand alliance involving Gurung, Edwards, BJP and other parties that are in alliance with the BJP,” said a source, adding that the main aim was to ensure that there was no division of votes against the BGPM-Trinamul combine.

Political observers believe Trinamul and the BGPM will go for an unofficial alliance as they did during last year’s Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections. The alliance won the GTA polls.

Gurung had disassociated himself from the BJP in 2020 after 11 years of alliance, while Edwards was keeping equidistance from the BJP and Trinamul.

“However, this time around, efforts are being made to rally all hill Opposition parties against the BGPM-Trinamul combine,” said a source.

Sources said a meeting of the BJP and its allies like the GNLF, CPRM and a faction of the ABGL was slated to be held in Siliguri on Saturday to discuss the matter. Gurung and Edwards have not been invited to the meeting.

Kalyan Dewan, the president of the BJP (Darjeeling hills), admitted on Friday that discussions were on for a grand alliance.

“Gurung and Edwards had come up with a proposal earlier. We are holding discussions to rally parties for Gorkhaland against those who don't support the separate state. Things will become clear in a day or two.”

As the last date for filing nominations is June 15, there is a race to finalise the alliance by Sunday.

Sources, however, said the GNLF was not keen on joining hands with Gurung and Edwards.

“We have deep reservations about the grand alliance. I am not sure about the unity narrative. It is just an attempt (by Gurung and Edwards) to consolidate their base. However, a final decision will be taken by the BJP's central leadership and by our party president,” Neeraj Zimba, who is the secretary-general of the GNLF and the Darjeeling MLA, told The Telegraph.

The GNLF has also decided to hold a meeting of its central committee in Darjeeling on Saturday to discuss the party's strategy for the polls which will be held on July 8.

The BGPM's central committee also met at Mungpoo, about 30km from Darjeeling, on Friday.

Asked if his party would have a tie-up with Trinamul for the rural polls, BGPM president Thapa said: “This is a village-level election and a lot of factors are involved. We will have to settle things at the village level first, after which we will talk about the alliance.”

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