FROM THE HINDU
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is already set to take control of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration with as many as 28 of its candidates contesting unopposed though the GTA elections are more than a fortnight away.
The GJM, which has fielded candidates for all 45 seats, will have to face a contest in only 17 constituencies when elections to the new autonomous regional body are held on July 29.
“The 28 candidates of the GJM have already been declared elected,” district authorities told The Hindu on Thursday. GJM president Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri are among the 28 GJM nominees who were elected unopposed.
Claiming that “the elections have become a farce,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) asked all its candidates to withdraw their nominations on Thursday, leaving the Trinamool Congress the only other party in the fray. The Trinamool has fielded candidates in 17 constituencies.
Over 40 persons have filed nominations as Independents, but of them Sanchabir Subba from the Gitdabling Nimbong constituency is the only candidate with standing in the upcoming polls.
CPI (M) afraid: Giri
Dismissing allegations that coercion and threats from GJM supporters had resulted in so many candidates withdrawing from the race, Mr. Giri said the CPI(M) did not have a support base in the Darjeeling hills. “Had their candidates contested, they would have forfeited their security deposit, which is why they have pulled out,” Mr. Giri said.
However, Jibesh Sarkar, a senior CPI(M) leader from Darjeeling district, said the decision to withdraw from the race was taken “following extreme pressure exerted on our candidates.”
Winning or losing these elections was not an issue. “We had wanted to participate in the democratic process, but it has become clear that the atmosphere here is not conducive to democracy.”
Mr. Sarkar said the CPI(M) had approached the district administration, the police as well as senior officials in the West Bengal Home Department but its pleas fell on deaf ears.