The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) will stay away from the coming Lok Sabha polls and not support any candidate for the Darjeeling seat, party chief Subash Ghising announced in Siliguri on Sunday.
Addressing a rally of several thousand people in Siliguri, Ghising demanded Scheduled Tribes status for hill groups like Rais, Gurungs, Magars and Newars.
"Until and unless this is done, we will not take part in the elections. We will not support any candidate for Darjeeling," Ghising said.
The GNLF, which led a violent agitation in the 1980s demanding Gorkhaland - a separate state to be formed out of Darjeeling and surrounding areas in the foothills of the Himalayas that are now part of West Bengal - has been marginalised in the hills with the emergence of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).
The GJM is supporting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heavyweight Jaswant Singh's candidature in Darjeeling and has joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after the BJP agreed to sympathetically consider the Gorkhaland demand.
Singh is up against sitting MP Dawa Narbula of the Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Jibesh Sarkar, among others.
After GJM announced its decision, Ghising had said that the GNLF will play a role in the polls.
But Sunday's announcement has come as a damper to the supporters of the former uncrowned king of the hills, who ran the development body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) for about 20 years with an iron hand, till his party lost its clout to the GJM last year.
Ghising is now based in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district after being virtually driven out of Darjeeling by the GJM.
Since the 1990s, the Darjeeling seat has been won by the party that secures the backing of the dominant outfit in the hills. Darjeeling goes to polls April 30.