Union home minister P Chidambaram is set to visit Darjeeling on April 16, the last day of campaigning before the first phase of assembly polls on April 18, to pitch for Congress candidates in the Hills.
Despite Darjeeling going to polls in the first phase, hectic electioneering has strangely been missing from the Hills. However, Chidambaram's visit is likely to infuse the much-needed thrust to the election campaign in the Hills.
"We were informed by West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Manas Bhuniya that P Chidambaram would be arriving on a one-day campaign tour of the Hills on April 16," said Lawrence PT Lama, president, Darjeeling Congress Town Committee.
Lama said that the home minister would touch down at Bagdogra and would be flown to Kalimpong by helicopter to briefly campaign for Congress nominee Shanti Kumar Sharma. From Kalimpong, he would head straight for Darjeeling, where he would campaign for Congress nominee Nahkul Chandra Chettri. Both events would be in the form of outdoor public meetings. He would wind up all outdoor events before campaign phase runs out on the day.
Chidambaram would then proceed to Kurseong by road, where he would later address an indoor campaign meeting for Congress candidate Chabi Chandra Rai. From Kurseong, he would head back to the Bagdogra airport by road before flying out. "This is the tentative itinerary of the home minister," said Lama.
With Congress hardly having a presence in the Hills and not being counted among the strongest contenders in the poll battle, the home minister's visit could be aimed at wooing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for a post poll alliance.
With the state polls likely to be a closely contested affair this time, the GJM could emerge as a prospective ally of the Congress-Trinamool Congress combine, should they return a favourable mandate, feel observers.