Mamata Banerjee sets aside 3 Darjeeling seats but GJM factions remain divided
- The GJM factions, led by Bimal Gurung and Binoy Tamang, are allies of the TMC but both groups said they would contest each other even if that leads to a triangular contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the fray.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to establish peace between her allies, the two rival factions of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), by leaving three assembly seats in the Darjeeling hills for the party did not yield any result on Friday.
The GJM factions, led by Bimal Gurung and Binoy Tamang, are allies of the TMC but both groups said they would contest each other even if that leads to a triangular contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the fray.
The BJP is planning to contest all seats in the hill region in alliance with the Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists which are smaller parties compared to the GJM.
Gurung and Tamang have plans to field candidates in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong assembly constituencies that Banerjee left out for GJM while announcing the names of 291 TMC candidates on Friday afternoon.
Roshan Giri, general secretary of the Gurung faction said, “We will contest all three seats on our own. There is no question of entering into an understanding with the Tamang group.”
Leaders of the Gurung faction earlier promised to back the TMC in the rest of the 14 seats in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.
Anit Thapa, general secretary of the Tamang faction and chairman of the board of administrators in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) said “It is going to be a triangular contest in these three seats. We left Gurung long ago.”
Gurung went into hiding in 2017 after he was charged under the anti-terror law by the state government because of the violence witnessed during the Gorkhaland stir. After coming out of hiding in October last year Gurung said he will no longer support the BJP which won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat thrice since 2009 with his support. The Bengal government has started withdrawing the criminal charges against him.
Gurung suffered a setback on Wednesday when Lopsang Lama (Yolmo), working president of the faction he leads, was arrested by Sikkim Police under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Lama runs a private school at Namchi in south Sikkim.
Lama was being considered as candidate for the Kalimpong assembly seat, party leaders said.