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19 Apr 2018

Morcha split pangs for BJP.... Tamang-Gurung rivalry shadow on poll prospects

TT, 19 April 2018, Siliguri/Alipurduar: The split in Gorkha Janmukti Morcha last year that led to the emergence of Binay Tamang as the main leader and sidelined rival Bimal Gurung has left the BJP worried in the Dooars ahead of the rural polls.

Since 2009, when BJP has allied with the Morcha, it has been dependant on the hill party both in the hills and in the Dooars, and particularly in its eastern part (Alipurduar district).

It is this bonhomie that made BJP to win the Madarihat Assembly seat in the 2016 elections and also made the party give a tough fight to Trinamul in the adjoining Kalchini constituency.

"For the panchayat elections, BJP had been focussing consistently in the Dooars with the idea that it would continue to enjoy Morcha's support and can win a number of seats in all three tiers. In fact, Trinamul was under pressure in some of the areas and leaders had been consistently taking up tasks to consolidate support base. However, the split within Morcha has reverted back pressure on BJP," said a political observer.

Along with the split, some other factors which have left BJP leaders frowning are defection of huge chunk of leaders and supporters from the Morcha to Trinamul and Binay Tamang's announcement of support at Trinamul.

Also, some of the initiatives taken up by Trinamul leaders - most importantly the success to reopen most of the abandoned tea estates of Duncanas Goenka Group - have worked against BJP.

"That BJP is in a tough situation has been proved by the fact that Trinamul has won the gram panchayat seats in Huntapara and Lankapara panchayats (named after the gardens of Duncans Group) uncontested. Also, Trinamul has bagged the panchayat samiti seat of Lankpara uncontested. These are areas where BJP had got more votes than Trinamul at the Assembly polls but in the rural polls they could not even get candidates. This shift is significant," said a senior Trinamul leader based in Birpara.

Manoj Tigga, the BJP MLA of Madarihat, is under pressure. "He is working day and night to ensure that the party wins in most panchayats. Otherwise, questions would be raised on his support base," said a BJP insider.

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