BJP SS Ahluwalia wins in Darjeeling, Interesting times lie ahead in the hills

BJP candidate for Darjeeling constituency, Surinder Singh Ahluwalia won by 196,795 votes in the Lok Sabha Election.SS Ahluwalia secured 487,564 votes, while Bhaichung, TMC candidate, received 290,769 votes.

Darjeeling residents arrive at Shri S S Ahaluwalia's place in Darjeeling
Darjeeling residents arrive at Shri S S Ahaluwalia’s place in Darjeeling

Rior to Lok Sabha polls, Darjeeling witnessed an upsurge of Trinamool Congress under the draconian eyes of Mamata Banerjee, who was gradually gaining grounds and winning some hearts in Darjeeling with her divide and rule policy. TMC’s candidate, Bhaichung Bhutia looked a strong candidate and posed a great threat to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the leading political party in the hills. But, election results portrayed the strength of GJM and people’s faith in BJP, as the local party had backed BJP’s candidature of SS Ahluwalia, who won Darjeeling’s Lok Sabha seat with 1.98 lakh votes (at present).

scenes in the party office of GJM
Scenes in the party office of GJM

The scenes in the party office of GJM were something to watch out for, as party’s supporters’ smiles said it all. The dream of Gorkhaland could be seen from far away, their glistening eyes narrated the dream. Some of them were even dancing on the streets outside the party office to the tunes of an emphatic victory with party flags in their hands.
GJM general secretary, Roshan Giri was excited with BJP’s victory, as he said, ”We have high expectations from BJP after this victory. The party (BJP) will look into the demand of Gorkhaland.” But, not everyone is optimistic about the dream of Gorkhaland, even after BJP is all set to come to power.

During the last elections as well, it was BJP who won the Lok Sabha seat from Darjeeling in the form of Jaswant Singh, who had promised Gorkhaland during the time along with Bimal Gurung. So will it be the same this year as well – promises not being delivered. Jyostna, a resident of Darjeeling does not have high expectations, as she said, ”It does not matter who comes to power. All are the same. But, the good thing is that BJP has stood for smaller states, so Gorkhaland might have a slight chance. But, I have a question – can we think of Gorkhaland when TMC still rules Bengal?”

Roshan Giri is well aware of the fact about TMC being in power. With a tone of confidence in his voice, he said, ”That is there (TMC in power), but after all, it is a positive sign that the absolute majority will be with BJP at the centre.” Though, BJP may not have directly included Gorkhaland in their manifesto, but the locals have trusted upon the party to deliver their long pending dream of Gorkhaland.

GJM has pinned their hopes on SS Ahluwalia, who the locals feel, do not understand the culture, tradition and language of the hills. Ironically, they had to vote for BJP, as other candidates stayed aloof from the demand of Gorkhaland. Alok Pariyar from Kalimpong said, ”These leaders do not understand the local aspirations. They do not even spend much time with the locals. They mostly spend their time in Delhi. I do not expect much change even after BJP comes to power.”

But, there are some locals who still hopes that the problems of the Gorkhas would be addressed by the party coming to power ? BJP. ”I hope that the party will look into the issue of Gorkhaland, which is a decade old demand. One hopes that the party also addresses other issues of Gorkhas as well, which are in abundance” said Parsu Himgmang.
Upendra, another resident of Darjeeling who has followed politics in the hills for many a years gives a deep insight to BJP’s victory. He said, ”The only reason why BJP has won in the hills is that the people in the hills are still hoping for Gorkhaland. People remained steady fast with BJP, expecting that the BJP has the required strength and guts to see through the demand of Gorkhaland.”

It was no seceret that BJP would win the elections in the hills, but many experts were surprised when BJP received a number of votes in the plains as well, which primarily includes Siliguri, where a large number of Bengali population reside and are against the formation of Gorkhaland. One had expected TMC and CPI (M) to outmuscle GJM, but it was not to be. ”This is the result of the draconian policy that had been adopted by TMC, which has even angered the people in the plains. TMC created a brutal regime of fear,” said Upendra.

While there were other reasons for an overwhelming victory for BJP as well. The pathetic condition of the tea garden workers in Darjeeling and Dooars, Alipurduar also forced people to go against TMC. ”Nepali and Adivasi tea workers might have also voted for GJM ‘asking for help’ to look into their pathetic ocndition.”

With such comfortable victory for BJP, TMC no longer holds the power to instill that fear, with BJP and SS Ahluwalia in power. GJM seems to have played the election game with Ahluwalia as an ace card, as Ahluwalia enjoys a good relationship with Narendra Modi, who will be the first citizen of India. This relationship can only play an important role in realising the demand of Gorkhaland. Ahluwalia can be used as a shield to protect GJM, if required against TMC, who will still rule the state.

Interesting times lie ahead in Darjeeling.

Source: Ashim Sunam – merinews

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