In Hills, BJP gains GJM edgehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/in-hills-bjp-gains-gjm-edge/

In Hills, BJP gains GJM edge

“GJM president Bimal Gurung called me yesterday (Sunday) and assured his party will support our candidates there (in Bengal),” state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.

TMC candidate from Darjeeling Baichung Bhutia addresses a press conference in Gangtok, on Monday. Tshering Lepcha, General Secretary of TMC’s Sikkim unit looks on.PTI
TMC candidate from Darjeeling Baichung Bhutia addresses a press conference in Gangtok, on Monday. Tshering Lepcha, General Secretary of TMC’s Sikkim unit looks on. PTI

In a major boost to BJP’s election prospects in West Bengal, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced it will extend support to the saffron party in the state, including the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat from where the Trinamool Congress is fielding footballer Baichung Bhutia as its candidate.

“GJM president Bimal Gurung called me yesterday (Sunday) and assured his party will support our candidates there (in Bengal),” state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.

“This shows they have grown tired of the false promises of the TMC and have realised it’s the BJP that would form the next government at the Centre, and that it is through this (BJP-led) government that the development in the hills will become possible,”

Sinha said, and added that the party would soon announce the names of its candidates for Darjeeling and Alipurduar, the latter figuring in Gurung’s recent claim as one of parliamentary seats (besides Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri) where the GJM support will be “the deciding factor”.
BJP national executive member Siddharth Nath Singh, who attended the meeting in New Delhi where Gurung was accompanied by two of the Morcha’s general secretaries, Raju Pradhan and Vinay Tamang, confirmed that the GJM has agreed to extend support to the BJP in Bengal. This announcement comes close on the heels of two Asom Gana Parishad leaders – former AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and senior leader Hitendra Nath Goswami – joining the BJP.

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Discussing BJP’s stand on the GJM’s demand for a separate state (Gorkhaland), the BJP state president said there had been a clear message from the party high-command that there would not be any division of West Bengal. “But demands of the GJM would be paid due attention to and their development would be ensured,” Sinha said.

In accusing the TMC, Sinha also talked about author Mahasweta Devi’s “growing disappointment” with the party after expressing desire to see Chief MInister Mamata Banerjee as the country’s prime minister.

“Someone had called on behalf of the author and said she wanted to talk to me. A seat for her adopted daughter Anjali Orao, which was promised by the TMC, has probably been denied now and I was told she wanted to talk to me to see if the BJP could provide her a candidature. I did not want to talk to her because we have gone too far in selecting the candidature and I was uncomfortable in saying “no” to her. So I didn’t talk to her,” Sinha said.

The author, however, denied of any such conversation having taken place. “Anjali was never supposed to be pitched as a TMC candidate and therefore me being disappointed is out of the question. As far as asking someone to call Rahul Sinha, I don’t remember doing anything like that,” she said and added that she had no idea why Sinha had made such a claim.