In a shot in the arm for the Bharatiya Janata Party, two senior leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad on Monday joined the party and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha pledged support to BJP candidates in West Bengal, including the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.
Former AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and senior AGP leader and former minister Hitendra Nath Goswami joined the BJP along with a large number of their supporters. They were welcomed by BJP President Rajnath Singh.
In another development, GJM President Bimal Gurung announced that his outfit will extend support to the BJP in West Bengal.
He was accompanied by two of the Morcha's general secretaries Raju Pradhan and Vinay Tamang.
"The GJM has expressed its desire to support BJP candidates in Bengal for Lok Sabha polls, including the Darjeeling seat," said BJP national executive member Siddharth Nath Singh.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the GJM had supported senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh for the Darjeeling seat, who had emerged as a winner.
Asked about the BJP's candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling, Singh said, "It will be decided by the party".
The GJM's support to the BJP comes at a time when the ruling Trinamool Congress has nominated footballer Bhaichung Bhutia from the Darjeeling seat.
The GJM, whose support is a deciding factor in the hills, has decided not to support Bhaichung.
"The real fight in Bengal is between the TMC and the BJP," Singh said.
Gurung had recently claimed that the GJM’s support would be the deciding factory not only in the Darjeeling parliamentary seat, but also in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Lok Sabha seats.
In Assam, the BJP has already declared five of its candidates including three sitting Members of Parliament.
Sources said Patowary will be contesting from Barpeta constituency.
Image: A BJP supporter at a convention for the saffron party