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Darjeeling Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP's Raju Bista faces an uphill task in triangular contest

Hot seats in Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP's Raju Bista is the incumbent MP in Darjeeling, who defeated TMC's Amar Singh Rai in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Trinamool Congress has fielded Gopal Lama while the Indian National Congress has nominated Munish Tamang for the seat.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Darjeeling Updated on: April 25, 2024 19:18 IST
Lok Sabha elections 2024, Darjeeling
Image Source : INDIA TV BJP's Raju Bista faces TMC's Gopal Lama and INC's Munish Tamang in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling Lok Sabha elections 2024: Darjeeling, one of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, will go for polls in the second phase of the parliamentary elections on April 26. Like most constituencies, Darjeeling is also set to witness a triangular contest between Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Raju Bista, Trinamool Congress' (TMC) Gopal Lama and Indian National Congress' (INC) Munish Tamang.

Voting will start next Friday to elect the Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling and the results will be announced on June 4. Darjeeling is a General category seat in West Bengal but comprises a substantial number of voters from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). Bista is the incumbent MP in the constituency.

Darjeeling has seven assembly segments - Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Kurseong, Matigara-Naxalbari, Siliguri, Phansidewa and Chopra. The seat was dominated by the Left and the Congress till the 1980s. Since 2009, the BJP has won the Lok Sabha for three consecutive times, primarily due to support from the Gorkhaland movement.

Lok Sabha election results in Darjeeling

Bista won the Darjeeling constituency by a huge margin in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections after garnering 750,067, defeating TMC's Amar Singh Rai who got 336,624 votes and Congress' Sankara Malakar. In te 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate SS Ahluwalia defeated former footballer and TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia by a margin of 1,97,239 votes.

The Darjeeling Hills, known for its tea, has witnessed bouts of violence since the '80s over the demand for a separate state of 'Gorkhaland'. The most recent one happened in 2017 and lasted 104 days, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Besides the Gorkhas, the other communities who live here are Lepchas, Sherpas and Bhutias.

Besides statehood, implementation of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which provides for autonomy and self-governance, has also been a major poll plank in the Hills. Bista, who is a Gorkha from Manipur, is confident about his victory with the Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha extending support to him.

In an interview with news agency PTI, Bista said the BJP is in the process of finding a 'permanent political solution' for the Darjeeling Hills had begun and it will be achieved in the next five years. "We had said this in 2019 in our manifesto, and the process in this regard has already begun through talks with the Union Home Ministry. In the next five years, a permanent political solution for Hills, Terai, and Dooars will be achieved," he said.

Challenges to BJP in Darjeeling

However, the contest in Darjeeling is unlikely to go as smoothly for the BJP as as the TMC has strengthened its organisation in the area over the last few years and fielded Gopal Lama -- a Gorkha candidate backed by the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM), which runs the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) that governs the Hills. The TMC performed well in last year's civic body polls in Siliguri, which is a part of the Darjeeling constituency.

Further, the Congress-Left alliance has fielded Munish Tamang who helmed the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisang. It also managed to get the support of the Hamro Party, which is known for its performance in the civic body polls in the Hills. 

The most formidable challenge that Bista is facing is BJP's Kurseong MLA Bishnu Prasad Sharma contesting as an Independent after he was unhappy with the party for not fielding a 'bhumiputra' for the contest in the Darjeeling constituency. However, Bista has so far rejected the challenges his opposition was mounting. 

(with inputs from PTI)

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