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22 May 2017

TMC picks Gorkha leader for RS polls

Pramod Giri and Saubhadra Chatterji, HT, 22 May 2017, Siliguri:Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee nominated a Gorkha leader for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, after her party won a Darjeeling hills civic body first time in 32 years last week.
The West Bengal CM has also re-nominated party’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek o’Brien for another term.
Out of the six Rajya Sabha seats up for grabs, Trinamool is sure to win five. “I will also try for the sixth seat,” Banerjee recently told HT.
She lost the Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong civic bodies to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the BJP. She has chosen to field Shanta Chettri from Kurseong and Darjeeling for the Rajya Sabha polls next month, in what is being seen as a political investment for the future polls.
Chettri was a former MLA of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), the group that originally stoked the fire for a separate Gorkhaland under the leadership of Subhas Ghising. However, she switched over to the TMC and emerged as its key face in the hills.
Banerjee’s party became the first ruling party of the plains to win an election in the hills that had been a fiefdom of the Gorkha outfits, when it won the Mirik civic body last week.
While the Trinamool announced its nominees, the CPI(M) and the Congress are yet to decide on a pact for the sixth seat which is currently held by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. In case a pact fails to materialise between the two, TMC may win the last seat also.
Chettri’s nomination also comes ahead of the crucial polls for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the administrative body for the hills.
“People always exploit the Hills... I am happy that I have been able to give back something to the Hills,” Banerjee said.
Critics however pointed out that winning GTA will be an uphill task. She earlier fielded former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia as a Lok Sabha candidate but failed to draw votes.

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