|Bimal Gurung at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling
on Sunday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, July 10: Bimal Gurung today lashed out at party leaders for not being serious about tackling erosion in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s vote share that was apparent in the Assembly polls.
Although the Morcha won all the three hill Assembly seats, the party’s winning margin dropped by around 68.5 per cent compared to the 2011 elections.
“There has been an erosion in the votes. If we work seriously, things will improve. I, however, think that the elected members (of the party) are not very serious about it,” the Morcha chief said at a book release here today.
The thin attendance at the book release event at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan – the place seats 600 but around 150 people were there – may have also triggered Gurung’s rage.
Referring to the civic polls due this year and the GTA elections to be held in July next year, he said: “Elections are nearing but proper focus is not there. The Prime Minister did not form a committee to examine the demand of granting ST status to 11 communities for nothing. This is an outcome of my 62 days’ padayatra (in October last year).”
The committee headed by Asok Pai, the joint secretary, ministry for tribal affairs, was formed in April this year.
In this year’s Assembly polls, the Morcha’s winning margin dipped in all the three hill seats.
In 2011, Trilok Dewan, the Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, had defeated GNLF’s Bhim Subba by 1,06,555 votes. While the Morcha had polled 1,20,532 votes, the GNLF had bagged 13,977.
This year, the Morcha (Amar Singh Rai) won the seat by 49,913 more votes than Trinamul’s Sarda Rai Subba. The GNLF had supported Trinamul in the seat.
In 2011, the Morcha’s Harka Bahadur Chhetri had bagged 1,09,102 votes in Kalimpong while his nearest rival, Prakash Dahal of the GNLF, could poll only 7,427 votes. The Morcha’s winning margin was 1,01,675 votes.
This year, Chhetri who floated the Jana Andolan Party, was defeated by the Morcha’s Sarita Rai by 11,431 votes – a slide of around 90 per cent for the hill party despite Gurung’s personal campaign in this seat.
In Kurseong, the Morcha’s Rohit Sharma had bagged 1,14,297 votes in 2011 giving the party a lead of 93,096 votes. His nearest rival from the GNLF had to forfeit her deposit.
This time, Sharma won the seat by 33,726 votes defeating Shanta Chhetri of the GNLF.
According to sources, the anti-Morcha votes in the hills began consolidating since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the parliamentary polls, the GNLF had joined hands with Trinamul and they stayed allies in the Assembly elections.
In 2014, the anti-Morcha votes in the three seats in total was 1,57,890. This year, in the three Assembly segments that figure has risen to 1,94,699.
Gurung seemed visibly irritated at the low turnout for the release of ” Rajnitika Kuraharu” (Talks of politics) authored by P. Arjun, a former member of the party’s Study Forum, who had been expelled for his connections with Independent candidate Mahendra P. Lama during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“I came from Kalimpong last evening to attend the programme today. I was expecting a number of writers and literary figures to felicitate P. Arjun here and a good turnout. This shows how things function when I am not around,” Gurung told the gathering of around 150 people at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri was present at the book launch, as were the three hill MLAs and senior leader Binay Tamang.
“Even today, many elected GTA Sabha members and municipality commissioners have not come here, probably because they think they will not get a ticket in the next election,” Gurung said at the programme that was organised by the Morcha.
“I have asked for the event to be videographed for my reference,” he added.
During his address, Arjun said it was time for the party to introspect. “It is time for introspection right from the GTA to erosion of votes in the recent elections,” he said.