Jaswant files nomination, says it’s his big day (Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Darjeeling, April 9 (IANS) Flanked by top Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh filed his nomination for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal Thursday, describing it as a big day in his life.
“I feel humble. Filing the nomination with support of the GJM is a big day for me,” Singh said after completing the nomination formalities at the district magistrate’s office here.

Singh arrived at the district magistrate’s office in a big procession, with hundreds of GJM supporters shouting “Jai Gorkha, Jai Jaswant”.

“Your response has come as a big encouragement for me. If I can be of any use to this region, then my life will be fulfilled,” he said, as GJM president Bimal Gurung stood all smiles beside him.

Singh, who has held important portfolios like finance, defence and external affairs in the past and is the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, arrived in this north Bengal hill town Tuesday amid a tumultuous welcome from the GJM.

He attended a series of felicitation programmes Wednesday, as GJM leaders made a fervent pitch for their key demand of Gorkhaland - a separate state to be formed out of Darjeeling and the foothills of the Himalayas that are now a part of West Bengal.

“I am from Rajashtan. But from now on, Darjeeling will be my karmabhoomi (place of work),” Singh said.

On Friday, the BJP leader will start his campaign with a joint rally alongside Gurung at Sukia Pokhri.

The GJM has supported Singh’s candidature and is now part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after the BJP agreed to sympathetically consider its Gorkhaland demand.

Singh will be up against sitting MP Dawa Narbula of the Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) nominee Jibesh Sarkar among others.

However, political observers are waiting to hear from Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghising, who has announced that his party will play a role in the polls.

Ghising has been holding parleys with his associates in the neighbouring Jalpaiguri district, where he is now based after being virtually driven out of Darjeeling by the GJM last year.

Three of the assembly segments in the constituency - Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong - are in the hills where the GJM now appears to have a stronghold. The remaining four parts - Matigara-Naxalbari, Siliguri, Phansidewa and Chopra - are in the plains.

The Ghising-led GNLF, which led a violent agitation on the Gorkhaland demand in the late 1980s, ran the autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) for years, before the GJM upstaged it.

Since the 1990s, the Darjeeling seat has been won by the party that secures the backing of the dominant outfit in the hills.

Darjeeling goes to polls April 30.

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