The BJP seems to have put the house of its largest hill ally, the Gorkha National Liberation Front’s (GNLF), in disorder, with many disgruntled at the nomination of sitting Darjeeling MLA Neeraj Zimba, a GNLF leader.
The BJP on Tuesday announced Subha Pradhan as their candidate from Kalimpong, B.P. Bajgain from Kurseong and Zimba from Darjeeling. Zimba, a GNLF leader who had contested on a BJP ticket the 2019 by-elections, will do the same this time around.
Mann Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, had voiced the party’s dissent regarding BJP’s candidates from Kalimpong and Kurseong after the list was announced on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Ghisingh faced dissent from his own party cadres as many GNLF supporters from Darjeeling started pitching for Ajoy Edwards, president of the GNLF Darjeeling branch committee.
Hundreds of Edwards’s supporters visited their leader to express their solidarity.
The supporters want Edwards to contest in the GNLF’s party symbol from Darjeeling.
“Since the BJP has announced candidates, the GNLF can always announce its own candidate,” said an Edwards supporter. This message has been convened to Ghisingh, sources said, and a meeting with Edwards has been scheduled.
The outcome of the meeting, likely to be held in Siliguri on Thursday, could give a clearer picture on how the GNLF deals with the situation.
Recently Ghisingh had gone to Delhi and many believe he was aware of the BJP’s decision regarding candidates which some GNLF leaders said was not conveyed to the party’s central committee before the BJP announced their decision on Tuesday.
Dissent within GNLF is also brewing in Kurseong.
“Grassroots supporters and leaders of branch committees are not accepting candidates (named by BJP) and hence this talk of fielding candidates is coming in public domain,” said Mahendra Chhetri, the general secretary of the GNLF. Chhetri said that since the last day of withdrawal of nominations was till April 3, “the party will try and solve the issue (by then)”.
On Wednesday, BJP candidate from Kurseong B.P. Bajgain filed his nominations from Kurseong.
Candidates of the Binay Tamang faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha — Ruden Sada Lepcha, Tshering Lama Dahal and Keshav Raj Pokhrel — also filed their nominations.
BJP’s announcement has also triggered dissent from another of its ally in the hills, the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM). The party announced their own candidates for three hill seats.
Trinamul youth wing has also decided to field its own candidate from Darjeeling, though the party’s high command decided to leave the three hill seats to their “friends” in the hills.