Darjeeling with its unique brand of politics has not been able to escape the buzz of alliance politics in the state. Though pre-poll alliances have come a cropper, talks are on for a post-poll dispensation.
Initially, pro-Gorkhaland forces under the aegis of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) tried to field consensus candidates in the three Hills constituencies. This turned out to be a futile exercise with the GJM fielding candidates. Next the non-GJM,pro-Gorkhaland forces, including the Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM), All India Gorkha League tried out a poll alliance, which did not fructify as the former decided to field candidates in all seats. The CPRM later announced that it would not be taking part in polls and the AIGL was left in the fray.
Political pundits, however, predict that the recent resurrection of the Subash Ghisingh-led Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) could be a serious threat for the GJM in Kurseong. It has fielded candidates in all three constituencies and with the GNLF numbers swelling by the day; the GJM is in for a tough contest.
The anti-GJM votes getting divided should ensure a safe passage for the outfit. However, the winning margin will definitely be narrowed, predict political pundits, which will send strong signals to the government that the GJM is not the sole political party. (The government till now has been consulting the GJM to resolve the Gorkha crisis). A narrow GJM victory would mean that the Centre has to take other parties into confidence while chalking out the future for Darjeeling.
The Left Front does not have much support in the Hills owing to its anti-Gorkhaland stand. The Congress is also in the doldrums and had desperately tried to woo the GJM for an alliance, which failed. The BJP with no presence in the Hills declared their support to the GJM and MP Jaswant Singh will be campaigning for the party.
The GJM has not taken the trouble to mask the growing rift with old ally BJP, displaying more affinity towards the Congress-Trinamool alliance. With the GJM trying to cosy up to the powers that be, an alliance with the Congress-Trinamool seems to be more sense than with the saffron party. Though a Union minister recently said, “Gorkhaland is desirable but not do-able,” the GJM favours an alliance with non-BJP parties. With the polls likely to be closely contested, the GJM could turn out to a desired ally for the Congress-Trinamool combine should they return a favourable mandate. Dealing with the UPA 2 government is reason enough for the GJM to keep the Congress-Trinamool in good humour.
A healthy alliance with the Congress-Trinamool will result in the GJM reaping rich dividends especially with regard to the interim set-up, which is still pending in Delhi. The GJM suddenly announced unconditional support to the Congress-Trinamool in multiple seats in Terai-Dooars, a clear indicator of a post-poll alliance in the offing.
Even Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee while campaigning in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri hailed the GJM decision to extend support to the alliance and assured the party of a speedy resolution to the ongoing Gorkha crisis. Though he ruled out the formation of a state, his prescription for the Hills was a strong autonomy with a constitutional guarantee.
Most locals feel the state has prolonged the issue making it more critical. An early resolution of the Gorkha crisis could have emerged as an advantage to the Left Front, government.
Home minister P Chidambaram’s visit to Darjeeling on April 16 to pitch for Congress candidates could also be a pointer to a post-poll alliance. Chidambaram, who has held multiple rounds of meeting with the GJM in the past, could woo the party for a post-poll alliance.