Having decided against exploring the possibility of working out an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, the Congress is learnt to have sent out feelers to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) seeking its support for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.
Sources in the Congress said informal talks are on with the GJM, but pointed out that the Morcha is yet to reveal its mind. The GJM had supported BJP’s Jaswant Singh in 2009, but Singh is learnt to be reluctant to contest from Darjeeling again. The BJP has not yet announced its candidate in Darjeeling.
While the Trinamool Congress has fielded footballer Baichung Bhutia from the seat, the GJM has made it clear that it will not support him. The move has come as a surprise as the GJM had earlier indicated it could support the TMC candidate.
“We are talking to the GJM. But they have not yet said anything,” a senior Congress leader said. Congress sources said they were aware of the growing tension between the TMC and the GJM. The latter had supported TMC in Rajya Sabha elections last month.
Sources in the Congress said the GJM’s support to Singh last time around was largely because of his stature as a politician. He had supported the separate Gorkhaland demand as well. Although the Congress does not support the Gorkhaland demand, sources in the party said the GJM is unlikely to field its own candidate or support a BJP candidate again. “That leaves the GJM with little option,” a Congress leader said.
‘Baichung an outsider’
The GJM on Thursday said they were shocked to see Trinamool Congress naming footballer Baichung Bhutia as party’s candidate from Darjeeling. “There is no point in supporting Bhutia. He is from Sikkim. We support him as a footballer, but not as a politician. We were not consulted even once before the candidate was announced,” said GJM leader Roshan Giri. ENS
DDC vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan said, “As of today he does not hold the charge anymore.”