Contrasting voices over assembly elections in Darjeeling

MSN India

Kolkata, Feb 27 (PTI) As the tempo is gradually building in West Bengal for the assembly elections, trouble-torn Darjeeling hills are waiting for a final nod from the Election Commission over holding of polls, though political parties are divided over whether voting can be peaceful given the volatile situation.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the main votary for a separate state of Gorkhaland, insists that the polls can be held in the hills along with the rest of the state, but its participation is not yet decided.

“Gorkhaland is our top priority. We will take a call on participation when the election comes,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told PTI.

Giri claimed that besides the hill constituencies of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, the GJM could be a deciding factor in at least nine other seats in the plains which have a sizeable presence of Nepali speaking population like Rajganj and Kalchini.

In contrast to the GJM stand, the ruling CPI-M and Gorkha National Liberation Front of Subash Ghising said the situation was not ripe for a peaceful election.

“It is impossible to hold a peaceful election in the hills in view of terror unleashed by the GJM. It is only the GJM which can hold rallies and carry out activity there. Many of our political leaders have fled and are now living in Siliguri out of fear of GJM attacks,” Darjeeling district secretary of CPI(M) Jibesh Sarkar said.

Asked if his party wants postponement of the polls in the Hills, Sarkar said, “We are not saying that elections should not be held in the hills, but should the EC decide to conduct elections there, it should take the responsibility of organising a peaceful poll.”


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