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16 Dec 2016

JAP hides union poll winners

Harka Bahadur Chhetri in Lamahatta in Darjeeling on Thursday. Pic: Mohan Lama
Vivek Chhetri and Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Darjeeling, Dec. 15: The Jana Andolan Party today whisked away 12 of its candidates who had won the Kalimpong College union election to an undisclosed location fearing threats and poaching attempts on them by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The development came close on the heels of the Morcha leadership claiming that four of the 12 winners were Independents who were in touch with them and the hill party would form the new union board on the scheduled date.
Yesterday, JAP tasted its first poll success when the Jana Andolan Students' Union won 12 of the 22 seats and dislodged the Vidyarthi Morcha from the Kalimpong College union.
"The Morcha won only 10 seats but a Morcha leader, Anil Lopchun, while addressing the party's 10 victorious candidates in Kalimpong last evening said the party would form the college board on November 19, the day the board is supposed to be formed," JAP president Harka Bahadur Chhetri said today on the sidelines of World Tea Day celebrations in Tukdah tea garden, 25km from Darjeeling.
Anil Lopchun is the vice-president of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha.
"A losing party's claim that it would form the board only means that the Morcha is trying to poach our candidates. They might try to buy or even threaten our candidates. That is why early this morning we took all our 12 winning candidates to an undisclosed location," Chhetri said.
"The administration has helped conduct a free and fair election. Students have been able to express their mandate without fear this time around. If the need arises, we will also approach the administration on this issue," he added.
Sources said the JAP leadership would take the candidates to Kalimpong College on November 19.
Lopchun today said the new body at the college would be formed by the Vidyarthi Morcha as four of the 12 candidates were Independents.
"The student union polls are not contested with any party's symbol. However, the political allegiance of candidates is generally known. There is no doubt about the allegiance of our 10 candidates and the eight winning candidates of JAP. The remaining four victorious candidates to whom JAP is laying claim do not owe allegiance to any party, including ours," he said.
He added: "Where was the need for JAP to confine its candidates to an undisclosed location if it is so certain about their allegiance? The fact is, four of them were in touch with us and the JAP in its desperation to form the college body has resorted to something very unethical. We believe the truth will eventually prevail and we will form the body come December 19."
It is the first time that a predominant party in the hills has lost a college poll and the first time that a party has kept its winning candidates in an undisclosed location.

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