GJM candidates only ones in fray in about half of GTA seats

July 12th, 2012 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

Darjeeling, July 11 (IANS) The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) seems to have an edge in the July 29 election to the 45-member Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the new body for governing the Darjeeling hills in northern West Bengal, as in almost half of the seats their candidates are the only contestants.

The GJM is contesting all the 45 seats, out of which their candidates have no rivals in 22.

The last date for withdrawal is Thursday. The polls are slated for July 29.

The state’s ruling Trinamool Congress which had put up candidates in 18 seats had withdrawn from one.

West Bengal opposition Left Front, which had earlier announced that it would be in fray in 22 seats, managed to field candidates in only six seats, as most of the their candidates either withdrew from the race or failed to file nominations due to alleged terror tactics of the GJM.

GJM supremo Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha Gurung and party general secretary Roshan Giri are among the 22 candidates who are without any rivals.

The three picturesque Darjeeling hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseyong and Kalimpong have been on the boil for nearly three decades due to anti-government protests over the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The hills had witnessed killings, police crackdowns and long shutdowns which severely impacted the hills’ economic mainstays - tea, timber and tourism.

On July 18 last year, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

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