THE BJP may be euphoric about Jaswant Singh’s selection from the Darjeeling seat, but the CPM, which believes the Congress is its real enemy, sniffs an opportunity for victory in the triangular contest.
The reason is simple.
While Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or GJM — the Bimal Gurung-led party is supporting the BJP — has a strong presence in the three hill Assembly segments of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, it is the CPM and Congress that will fight for control of Matigara-Naxalbari, Siliguri, Phansidewa and Chopra in the plains.
Unlike the CPM and Congress, the GJM does not have strong presence in the Dooars. And with the BJP organisation also very weak in this belt, it’s not good news for Singh.
“An outsider candidate is an advantage for us. A local candidate would have posed a greater challenge. For, if Bimal Gurung had supported Dawa Norbula (the Congress candidate), the fight would have been tougher,” claimed Jibesh Sarkar, the CPM nominee from Darjeeling.
The CPM leadership believes the demand for Gorkhaland as a poll issue has failed in the plains as well as among a section in the Hills. “Jaswant picked up the Gorkhaland bogey in Darjeeling but in Siliguri he did not mention it. He knows people would reject it.”
Political observers say in the run-up to the polls, the CPM and Congress have emerged as forces for unity and peace, while the GJM and BJP are being looked upon as separatist forces demanding dissection of the state, and many don’t like this.
In the 2008 panchayat polls, the Congress-Trinamool Congress made inroads into all segments of the Darjeeling constituency, except the Hills, where elections were not held. Yet, the Congress agrees that among the tribals in the plains, they still remain a non-entity. No wonder, the CPM is expected to do well in the areas surrounding the 42 tea estates and the belt falling in the segments of Phansidewa and Matigara-Naxalbari.