Contrasting voices over assembly elections in Darjeeling

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Sarkar, who lost to GJM-supported BJP strongman Jaswant Singh in the last election by a margin of 2.5 lakh votes, saidthe party does not want a repeat of the situation during thelast election when voters were allegedly intimidated and CPI-Mworkers were not allowed to canvas support.

Urban development minister and GJM''s betenoire AsokBhattacharya went one step further. He claimed the hillsituation is worse than what prevails in Khejuri and Nandigramwhere land acquisition has pitted CPI-M against TrinamoolCongress.

Bhattacharya, who is forced to stay out of the hills bythe GJM, said it was upto the EC to feel the pulse of thepeople of the hills before going ahead with elections.

"The hill people will talk only if they are takenoutside the areas of GJM influence," he observed.

GJM central committee member Asha Gurung, who is thewife of party chief Bimal Gurung, said, if elections could beheld in Jammu and Kashmir, they could be very well held inDarjeeling which is more peaceful.

"In fact, the CPI-M is afraid of holding elections inDarjeeling," she said.

EC observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, who led a six-member ECteam to the hills recently, said there was no reason why theAssembly elections could not be held in the Darjeeling hills.

GJM central committee member Harkabahadur Chetri saidwhen the EC observers had said the situation in Darjeelinghills was right for holding polls, it was ridiculous that theCPI-M was crying foul.

Shanta Chetri, GNLF legislator from Kurseong said thesituation there was indeed not ripe for holding a peacefulpoll.

"Our party leaders and activists cannot hold programmesbecause of the threat of GJM and it is a reality." PTI PKC MDPR

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