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'This is going to be an era of the GJM'

Last updated on: April 18, 2011 17:46 IST

'This is going to be an era of the GJM'

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As the first phase of assembly elections was underway, rediff.com's Indrani Mitra Roy toured north Bengal only to find that the Trinamool-Congress alliance has a few takers here. Most voters swore by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, while a few referred to them as extortionists.

The hilly areas in and around Darjeeling wore a holiday look on Monday, as most of the shops and other establishments remained shut while the northern part of Bengal went to the polls. Going upwards from Siliguri to Darjeeling and Kurseong and then Naxalbari, opinions and predictions varied widely.

I came across a group of voters, in their early forties in Simulbari area, off Siliguri. Among them, Saraswati Thapa, a homemaker and Ajit Kumar Sharma were the most vocal.

Complete Coverage: Assembly Election 2011

"This is going to be an era of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. You, people from the plains are talking of a change and, we too hope that all the three GJM candidates win from here. The GJM is the only party that can voice our demands in the assembly," said Thapa and Sharma unanimously.

What about the allegations of atrocities against the party?

"Those are nothing but over-hyped statements by people with vested interests. We are just keeping our fingers crossed for a GJM win," they said.

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Image: A polling booth in Darjeeling
Photographs: Anil Sen
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'Only GJM, can help Gorkhaland dream fructify'

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As I moved further up, towards the hills, I started weighing the possibility of a GJM win.

The man behind the wheels went on updating me on the fast changing political scene in the hills the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League President Madan Tamang's murder allegedly by GJM supporters, et al.

I soon reached the Makaibari Tea Factory at Kurseong where polling was on in full swing.

Mahendra Sharma, an enthusiastic voter, too sounded almost certain of a GJM win. "All three GJM candidates will win. They are the fittest people to speak on our behalf at the assembly. Only they can help the Gorkhaland dream fructify."

Asked about the Tamang murder, Sharma said, "Let's not dig into the past. Let's think of the present and the future. You think of politics at the plains. Let us handle things here on our own."

 


Image: Mahendra Sharma (centre) along with other GJM supporters
Photographs: Anil Sen
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'GJM is run by hooligans, Left Front's the fittest'

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I decided not to argue and moved ahead. On reaching the main market of Kurseong, Pintu Gupta, owner of a small eatery, had a different take on the GJM. In fact, he refused to be photographed fearing the GJM 'goons' may ransack his eatery.

"The GJM is a mad party run by hooligans. They can do anything. They extort people like us and terrorise all. I would like Subhas Ghisingh's Gorkha National Liberation Front to come back to power," he said.

Ghisingh returned to Darjeeling on April 8 after a long exile and even attended a rally at Mirik just ahead of the assembly polls.

"The GJM is feeding the people of the hills with a never-attainable dream of Gorkhaland. And on the pretext of fighting for a cause, they are minting money. The entire GJM consists of thieves. It should be shunned by the people here," an emotional Gupta said. "The Left Front is the fittest party and for us, it's the GNLF," he added.

 

 

 


Image: A tea factory that doubled up for a polling booth in Kurseong
Photographs: Anil Sen
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'TMC-Congress alliance dream to win will remain unfulfilled'

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In Naxalbari, a few rooted for Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool Congress supporters here confidently predicted a landslide victory for their party across Bengal.

But isn't North Bengal a safe berth for the red brigade? "Who said," shouted young man in his mid-twenties. "For us, it's going to be a win all the way this time," he said.

At another booth Communist Party of India-Marxist supporter Nirjal Dey rubbished the claim that Trinamool will sweep the state. "We would win at least 40 seats in north Bengal alone. As for the rest of the state, the results would be pretty satisfying. The TMC-Congress alliance win in assembly election would remain an unfulfilled dream like always."

 

 


Image: CPI-M supporter supporter Nirjal Dey
Photographs: Anil Sen
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