The BJP has renewed its poll pact with Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.
The terms of the agreement are similar to those in the 2009 polls when BJP’s Jaswant Singh won the seat that has been in focus for the Gorkhaland statehood demand.
“Like last time, GJM will support our candidate from Darjeeling,” said BJP president Rajnath Singh with GJM chief Bimal Gurung by his side.
Although Singh did not announce the party candidate’s name, RS member Rajiv Pratap Rudy is seen as the next GJM-backed BJP candidate in Darjeeling.
Rudy was closely involved in the 2009 campaign for Jaswant Singh, who is likely to shift to Rajasthan this time. Rudy, who has two years left in the Rajya Sabha, however, told HT: “I have no idea about this.”
The announcement has far-reaching implications apart from posing a stiff challenge to TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia, former captain of the Indian soccer team. The support of the GJM matters in Darjeeling where Gorkhas form a majority.
But north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb seemed unfazed by the BJP-GJM deal. “This is a political strategy by the morcha. Our candidate, Bhutia, will win nevertheless,” he said.
More than its candidate’s chances, the TMC is worried by the possibility of BJP — if it forms a government at the Centre — granting Gorkhaland bypassing the state government as was done in the case of Telangana.