Vivek Chhetri and Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Darjeeling, April 17: Bimal Gurung cast his vote at Patlaybash Community Hall in booth number 23/95 here today but the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader’s mind was two hillocks away in Kalimpong.
Dressed in a blue tracksuit, Gurung voted around 9.30am and during his interaction with the media and supporters, he said: “The results will be good. I am confident that we will do well not just in Kalimpong but in all the constituencies where we have fielded candidates … Harka will be politically finished when the results will be announced.”
The Morcha has fielded candidates in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong and in Islampur and Chopra in the plains. It is supporting BJP candidates in Kalchini, Madarihat, Nagrakata and Kumargram.
MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who quit the Morcha in September and floated the Jana Andolan Party (JAP), is contesting against Morcha’s Sarita Rai in Kalimpong.
In 2011, Chhetri had won the seat on a Morcha ticket.
“In the urban area of Kalimpong, about 30 per cent of voters might not be with us and in the rural area about 20 per cent. But otherwise, we are still strong. A few people might have gone against us but there is nothing much to worry,” said Gurung.
Going by the crowds that Harka attracted during his campaigns, the Kalimpong contest seems to be a close call.
JAP bureau member Amar Lama said: “The feedback (we got) suggests we have an upper hand in Kalimpong. This could be the beginning of the end for the Morcha. We had polling agents in all booths .”
There are 261 polling stations in Kalimpong, 317 in Darjeeling and 290 in Kurseong.
A Morcha worker was heard telling his friends in the Darjeeling party office: “I think we are doing well in Kalimpong. There are reports that the button against our candidate’s name is more soiled in many booths of Kalimpong.”
In Kalimpong, Chhetri voted at Chandrloke Primary School around 7.15am today.
Talking to reporters, the JAP president said: “I will definitely win. People who have seen my work and those who have lost faith in the Morcha will vote for me. Despite the Morcha distributing money (to lure voters), I will win. Bimal Gurung will definitely taste defeat for the first time.
Gurung said the charges were false.
Kalimpong’s Morcha candidate Rai, who voted at Pedong today, said: “I believe that my win is certain. Once that is achieved, we will work for the development of Kalimpong.”
At 5pm, the voting per cent was 69 in Kalimpong, 66.1 in Darjeeling and 71 in Kurseong.
In Darjeeling, Trinamul’s Sharda Rai Subba said: “We had polling agents in 90 per cent of the booths. Where we did n’t, false votes were cast.”
A CRPF constable died and six were injured when a vehicle carrying the polling team from Bijanbari in Darjeeling constituency fell into a gorge around 8.30pm. The EVM was recovered and the injured were taken to hospital
In Darjeeling, Genius Rai, 31, and Pranesh Tamang, 23, both Morcha supporters, were arrested for trying to cast false votes. In Kalimpong, a youth was detained for selling liquor.