GJM to boycott Rajya Sabha polls

March 18th, 2012 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 18 (IANS) The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Sunday announced it will boycott the March 30 Rajya Sabha polls as its request for a seat was turned down by West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress.

The GJM, which fought the assembly elections last year as an ally of the Trinamool Congress, has four lawmakers in the state legislature.

“We have decided at a meeting today to boycott the Rajya Sabha polls,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.

Giri said since 1952, there have been nine Rajya Sabha MPS from the North Bengal hills, but regretted that the region would go unrepresented this time around.

“We had asked for a seat. They (Trinamool) did not give us. They did not understand the need for having representation from the hills. So why should we take part,” Giri asked.

Five candidates will be elected to the upper house from the state March 30. The Trinamool, which is assured of three seats, has nominated four candidates. The Left Front has the numbers to elect one member and has put up trade unionist Tapan Sen.

There will be an election if the Congress now decides to name a candidate.

Each candidate requires around 49 votes to sail through.

The GJM, spearheading the agitation for carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland from the Darjeeling hills in north Bengal, earlier organised a number of shutdowns and blockades in the hills.

The three picturesque Darjeeling hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseyong and Kalimpong have been on the boil for nearly three decades over the Gorkhaland demand. 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 Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

Things have improved since the signing of the GTA, with calm and peace restored and tourists flooding the hills.

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