Hill front to avoid common candidates

The Telegraph

Darjeeling, March 6: The Democratic Front will not have candidates under its banner in the coming Assembly elections in the hills, but the conglomeration of the anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha parties might support each other’s candidates.

The ABGL, CPRM, GNLF-C and the Sikkim-Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch are the main constituents of the DF.

Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL and the convener of the DF, said: “The ABGL today held a meeting and we have decided to actively take part in the elections. An 11-member team of the party has been formed to explore the possibilities of tie-ups and to select candidates for the polls.”

He made it clear that the DF would not have common candidates in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong Assembly seats. “The Front is not an electoral alliance but a political alliance formed essentially to restore peace and democracy in the hills. In fact, this was stated clearly when the Front was formed,” said Sherpa.

The ABGL is of the opinion that the identity of each party in the DF must be safeguarded. “We will not have a common candidate but we might talk to other parties to work out a situation where we might support the other party’s nominee and similarly seek their support for our party candidates,” said Sherpa.

The ABGL leader’s announcement is significant as during the last Assembly elections in 2006, the same parties had come under the banner of the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) and had fielded three candidates in the three hill seats. All the three candidates came second in the elections, polling together nearly one lakh votes in the hills.

It was largely expected that the DF would field common candidates in the hills this year also. Observers believe that a common candidate could have strengthened the anti-Morcha forum.

“Even if the parties do decide to support each other’s candidates, there will be no united fight to win the elections as the onus will be on the party fielding the candidate in a particular seat to ensure victory. The other parties in the front will only support their partner’s candidate and not actively campaign in the polls,” said an observer.


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