GJM Sarita Rai defeated JAP Harka Bahadur Chhetri in Kalimpong by over 11,000 votes

Kalimpong, May 19: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha candidate Sarita Rai defeated Harka Bahadur Chhetri in Kalimpong today by over 11,000 votes, leading to a clean sweep by the Darjeeling hills’ most powerful party.

But the loss of Chhetri, the sitting MLA of Kalimpong who had broken from the Morcha and floated the Jana Andolan Party (JAP), gives rise to a fear that the new Trinamul government could put in abeyance its previous decision to form a separate Kalimpong district, a plank on which the JAP had fought the elections with support from Trinamul.

Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, whose party won Darjeeling and Kurseong as well, today surprisingly extended an olive branch to Mamata Banerjee soon after the results were declared and said that differences should be set aside and they must work together.

Gurung’s relations with Mamata are currently at an all-time low and Mamata had fully extended support to Harka during the Assembly election.

GJM Sarita Rai Won by 11217 vote at ‪‎Kalimpong‬ Constituency
GJM Sarita Rai Won by 11217 vote at ‪‎Kalimpong‬ Constituency

The outgoing government, while announcing the decision to form a Kalimpong district last December, had explicitly said that its decision was influenced by Chhetri, who had quit the Morcha and raised the district issue.

Chhetri today said his loss indicated that the people of Kalimpong were not in favour of the district, but he will render all possible help to the new MLA in realising the objective as it is for the good of the people of Kalimpong.

“Now it is the responsibility of the new MLA because I am no longer in that place…Whatever effort needs to be made from my side, I will definitely do that. But, unfortunately, the people of Kalimpong have decided otherwise. They feel the district is not important to them. However, if the new MLA wants my help at any point in time, I will definitely extend that help because it is for the betterment of the people of Kalimpong,” he said.

Asked if he was hopeful that the new Trinamul government would act on the decision taken by the party’s previous government, Chhetri put the onus on the chief minister. “It is up to the will of the honourable chief minister. It has the cabinet committee approval. I think it should be taken forward,” he said.


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