In a strange turn of events, no party has filed nomination for the panchayat samiti seat in Benachapra in West Midnapore’s Garbeta 1 block. While the CPI(M) and the Congress claim that it was the terror unleashed by the ruling party that acted as a deterrent for their candidates, the Trinamool Congress leaders said they will find out why the seat was overlooked.
Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling may love the Siliguri mango but his remark is not music to the state.
The time for filing nominations (between May 29 and June 5 for the district) is, however, over, leaving the fate of the seat uncertain. Some political observers have claimed that this is probably the first time in the district and, indeed, the state that something like this has happened.
The development has, however, brought some publicity for the village, which was not known to outsiders. Rather, its more infamous namesake in Garbeta 3 block hogged the limelight in 2011 when five skeletons were dug out from CPI(M) strongman Sushanta Ghosh’s house there. But now, Benachapra in Garbeta 1 block will find a place in the election commission’s records.
Last time, in 2008, the seat was won uncontested by Mamata Lohar of CPI(M). But this development has surprised almost everyone in the district when they were informed about it.
“We will definitely find out why the seat was ‘overlooked’ by our party leaders. We will also determine if there was any reason for not filing nomination papers for the seat,” Mrigen Maity, the chairman of West Midnapore district Trinamool Congress committee, told HT.
The Congress, which has filed nominations for only 50 gram panchayat seats, 10 for panchayat samiti and two for zila parishad in Garbeta 1 block, cried terror.
Conceding their ‘poor organisational strength’ in the area, district Congress president Swapan Dube said, “Last time, no one from any other party (except CPM) was allowed to file nominations in the area. Now, we are watching a different dispensation creating the same terror. But it is very strange that no party or even an Independent candidate submitted nomination papers for this seat. While I can’t speak for others, the Congress has not filed nomination because of the terror unleashed by Trinamool.”
The CPI(M), too, played the terror card. “It is a fact that we failed to submit nominations in many seats and Benachapra under Garbeta 1 is one of them. Trinamool’s torture (terror) tactics is the main reason behind it. But is really strange that no one from the ruling party filed nominations,” Dipak Sarkar, the district secretary of CPI(M), said.
A surprised district administration even informed the state election commission about the matter. “We have informed the state election commission about this development and a by-election will be held in due time,” said Surendra Gupta, the West Midnapore DM. SILIGURI: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, currently in his fourth successive term, on Friday justified the division of Bengal, saying he was in favour of the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Chamling’s remarks come just two days after his government raised the issue of Gorkhaland at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security in New Delhi.
The chief minister, who was here to inaugurate the third Gitanjali Mango Festival, told mediapersons that he believes that the demand for a separate state is justified.
Chamling said, “I believe that India should have at least 50 smaller states, which could then be effectively managed and administered.”
The Sikkim CM’s statement, coming as it does on the soil of Bengal, assumes political significance and would provide moral support to those political parties which are spearheading the movement for Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling Hills.
Saying that his government had always been in favour of Gorkhaland, he added that the creation of smaller states would make the running of the administration more effective as in the US.
It bears recall that Chamling’s urban development minister Dil Bahadur Thapa had raised the issue of creating Gorkhaland at the CMs conclave. Thapa had reportedly said, “The formation of separate states (elsewhere in India) may renew the unrest in the region adjoining Sikkim.”
He had also said, “The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is demanding a separate Gorkhaland, is keeping a close watch on the formation of separate states, which may lead to a bigger agitation (for a separate state).”
In 2011, the Sikkim Assembly had passed a resolution supporting the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state comprising Darjeeling.
Chamling had then said the development was ‘vital in ensuring peace, security and the development of Sikkim and for free movement along its only lifeline,
the National Highway 31A.’ Sixty percent of this highway falls under the proposed Gorkhaland area and is affected every time the proGorkhaland parties call a strike in Darjeeling hills, which may explain Chamling’s support to the demand.