While politics in West Bengal is centered round the ongoing panchayat elections, the Darjeeling Hills is already witnessing political exercises for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The All India Gorkha League (AIGL) embarked on a campaign from Monday in support of Mahendra P Lama for the Lok Sabha elections.
Incidentally, Lama, an economist and at present the Pro Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), and a former vicechancellor of Sikkim Central University, recently announced his decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling as an independent candidate.
Fifty-two-year-old Lama had also appealed to political parties to support his candidature.
Talking to HT, Lama said, “We have adopted a policy of zero enemies and hence will appeal for support from all political outfits as well as apolitical organisations. I believe in being representatives rather than becoming leaders. Hence, we will not be floating a new political outfit. We want proper representation of our case in Parliament.”
Lama’s political agenda stresses on a separate state demand.
“Though that is the main agenda we want to bring national institutions to Darjeeling; proper linking of Darjeeling to the Parliament; oneness of the people of the plains and the hills; drastically changing the tea industry, its promotion and marketing of Darjeeling tea; re-orientation of the youth and effective socioeconomic reforms,” said Lama.
The first to respond to Lama’s appeal is the AIGL.
“In a Central Committee meeting in Darjeeling we decided that we would support Lama. AIGL has always invited intellectuals and people of good standing to take up the cause of Gorkhaland. Both the agitation of the 80s led by Subash Ghising and the present agitation led by Bimal Gurung betrayed the Hills and the aspirations of the people. We have great faith in Lama that his effort for the creation of a separate state will be sincere,” said Pratap Khati, general sdecretary, AIGL.
AIGL will start campaigning for Lama from Monday.
“Election committees will be formed which will chalk out strategies and will be in charge of campaigning. From the fourth week of August we will hold a series of public meetings for Gorkhaland also,” said Khati.
Incidentally, the AIGL is also a member party of the Gorkhaland Task Force (GTF).
The GTF is a conglomeration of political outfits and apolitical organisations with the one-point agenda of a separate state of Gorkhaland.