Darjeeling constituency in West Bengal has become politically hot this time. While the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has tied up with the BJP and put up Jaswant Singh to press for its demand for a separate state, the BJP is trying to woo the plains too while humouring Gorkha sentiments.
The GJM-BJP combine is demanding statehood in the Gorkha-dominated hills and keeping a studied silence over the issue in the plains. The constituency comprises Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong in the hills and Matigarah-Naxalbari, Siliguri, Phansidewa and Chopra in the plains.
For the BJP, the tie-up is a new opportunity to make inroads into the state. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP spokesman, told the electorate, “If you ensure Jaswant Singh’s victory, it will open the door for the BJP to West Bengal.”
Singh, on his part, is keeping his campaign strategy simple — assure Gorkhaland, with a dollop of the “ex-serviceman” sentiment, since he himself is one — especially in the Hills and Gorkha pockets in the plains.
“Everyone on board must be kept happy and satisfied. Jahan pe jo lagana chahiye wohi lagana hai (Apply the right words at the right places).”
The GJM’s strategy is simple, too — ensure heavy turnout in the hills, as the CPI(M), the Congress the CPI(ML) Liberation have their own vote banks in the plains. Although the GNLF has given way to the GJM, the Trinamool Congress has sided with the Congress.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) and the Congress have been busy consolidating votes in the plains. The Congress is even playing the “outsider” card, questioning why a Rajasthani (Jaswant Singh) had to be brought in to raise the statehood issue for the Gorkhas.