GJM candidates begin filing nominations for municipality election
Candidates of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha have started filing their nomination papers beginning today, setting the ball rolling for the expected heated election to the four civic bodies of the hills on May 14.
GJM president Bimal Gurung had a word of caution for the new candidates and advised them to work for the people’s welfare. Even as he admitted that the previous board (led by the GJM) had failed to deliver, Gurung put the blame for the shortcomings on the state government.
"Our previous board did not work properly, partially due to non-cooperation (timely release of funds) from the state government. Also, some of the councillors chose to remain aloof from the people. But this time, you (new councillors) must be humble and approachable so that the people are satisfied,” the GJM president said, while announcing the names of the candidates from Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling.
Nine GJM candidates from Kalimpong filed their nomination papers today in the returning officer’s office. In Darjeeling, Kiran Tamang, an Independent candidate from ward 1, also filed his papers. The last date for filing nominations is April 24.
Although a local body election, Gurung said the party’s issue would remain the separate state demand and asked the candidates, comprising mostly new faces, to make the people aware about it. “Our stand is for uplifting our ‘community’ and ‘mudda’ (statehood demand). You (candidates) must not forget it. Go to the people with this issue,” he said.
The GJM chief announced the names of 11 candidates from Darjeeling. Names of 19 candidates each from Kalimpong and Kurseong were also made public today. Gurung said the remaining names would be announced, including those from Mirik, tomorrow.
Eighty-four wards of the four hills municipalities will go to the polls. Darjeeling has 32 wards, Kalimpong 23, Kurseong 20 and Mirik 9. Unlike in previous municipality elections where they won uncontested in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, the GJM is expected to face tough competition this time, feel observers.
"Equations have changed and several factors have cropped up since the last election when the people hd voted overwhelmingly for the GJM. People have lost faith as the GJM led municipalities have failed to work for them. Then there is the issue of development boards, creation of Kalimpong district and Mirik sub-division and alliance of opposition parties that could eat into the GJM vote share,” an observer pointed out.
The TMC has joined hands with the Gorkah National Liberation Front for the polls, while the Jana Andolan Party led by Harka Bahadur Chhetri has already announced going solo. In the Assembly election, the GJM’s vote share had shrunk by nearly half with the JAP leading in 17 seats in Kalimpong.
Gurung however, refused to accept this probability. “It will be a challenge for us but we will triumph. The state government will not be able to divide us. The JAP is no more a force to reckon with in Kalimpong and we will win 17-18 seats there, enough for us to form the board,” the GJM chief said.
Meanwhile, the TMC also announced some of its candidates' names from Kalimpong today. (EOIC)