BJP’s double whammy against Trinamul in Darjeeling

BJP candidate Raju Bista
Fri, May 24, 2019

Our Correspondent
The BJP won both the Darjeeling parliamentary and Assembly seats by huge margins, giving a resounding blow to the Trinamul Congress and its ally, the Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
While the BJP candidate Raju Bista won the Lok Sabha seat by a huge margin of 3,74,743 votes, Niraj Zimba, a GNLF leader contesting on a BJP ticket, won the Assembly by-election by 46,285 votes. Bista polled 6,75,517 votes against Trinamul candidate Amar Singh Rai’s 3,00,774 votes.
Zimba, on the other hand, secured 87, 896 votes compared to the 41, 611 votes polled by his nearest rival Binay Tamang, who contested as an independent with the support of the Trinamul.
This is the third consecutive win for the BJP in the Darjeeling parliamentary seat following the victories of its candidates Jaswant Singh in 2009 and S. S. Ahluwalia in 2014.
An elated Bista said he was always confident of winning because of the atrocities the people of the hills were subjected to by the Bengal government. “The victory here comes at a time when prime minister Narendra Modi has swept the polls in the country. This demonstrates that the people here have voted against the atrocities and in favour of peace,” he said.
On the issue of Gorkhaland, he said the BJP would seek to find a permanent political solution to the problem of the hills as promised in the party’s election manifesto. “The Gorkhas of the hills face a crisis of identity as they are labelled as foreigners often. The BJP manifesto makes it clear a permanent political solution of the area will be found and 11 communities will be given the tribal status within the next five years.  There are other issues in the hills as well as the plains,” he said.
The Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat comprises three Assembly constituencies in the hills - Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong – and with four in the plains - Phasidewa, Siliguri, Chopra and Matigara-Naxalbari.
Zimba said the victories of the BJP in the hills and its wonderful performance in larger Bengal will ensure the defeat of the Trinamul in the Assembly election in 2021. “This is a landslide victory and illustration of the blessings and love of the people for us. This victory is also an outcome of the 2017 agitation for Gorkhaland. This is only a semi-final and the Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be removed in the 2021 Assembly election,” he said.
Both the B JP candidates were supported by the Bimal Gurung faction of the Morcha and other hills-based political parties. “Today’s results are a response of the people to the atrocities committed against them in 2017. This is a victory for democracy. The people have shown that Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa are not fit to sit in power,” he said.
Binay Tamang said the defeats were a result of the BJP wave in the country. “I accept and respect the verdict of the people. I would also like to congratulate the BJP candidates and hope that they will do good work for this area. We will hold a meeting of our central committee in the next few days to find out the reason for our defeat and decide our future course of action,” he said.
He said his party will maintain a cordial relationship with the Bengal government and the Trinamul party. Asked about the fate of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, he said it was for the State government to decide.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi