KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress (TC) are determined to capture power in the civic bodies of Darjeeling Hills even if it means splitting the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which currently holds sway there, or by effecting defections from the GJM to the Trinamool Congress.
All the three municipalities in Darjeeling –– Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling –– are run by GJM, along with Mirik municipality. Elections to these municipalities are scheduled for May 14.
The ruling party has adopted a two-pronged approach to oust GJM from power in Darjeeling. Firstly, the chief minister is visiting Darjeeling very frequently and announcing various development packages for the hill people.
Secondly, her party is working hard to bring about a split in the GJM, which is still the supreme power in Darjeeling. The chief minister has also set up several development councils for various tribes living in Darjeeling to woo them.
“Our chief minister will be visiting north Bengal for five days from March 27. She is likely to be in Mirik on March 30 when the small hilly town in Darjeeling district will get the status of a sub-division,” said senior minister Arup Biswas. A few months back, the chief minister had declared Kalimpong as a new district.
Apart from the chief minister’s frequent visits to the hills, her leaders are also making all efforts to split the GJM. The ruling party had managed to convince former GJM MLA from Kalimpong, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, to quit the party and join them.
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Recently, GJM’s Kalimpong unit vice-president LB Rai had quit the party and joined Trinamool Congress. The Kalimpong town committee general secretary of GJM had joined Trinamool Congress. The vice-chairman of GJM-run Kurseong Municipality, Kalpana Pradhan has also left the party and shifted her political allegiance to Trinamool Congress.
“The GJM is splitting almost every day and their leaders are joining us as they have realised that it is Mamata Banerjee who is capable of bringing changes in Darjeeling through her development schemes. We are expecting to do well in the civic polls in Darjeeling,” said another minister Goutam Deb.