Contrasting voices over assembly elections in Darjeeling

Kolkata, Feb 27 (PTI) As the tempo is gradually buildingin West Bengal for the assembly elections, trouble-tornDarjeeling hills are waiting for a final nod from the ElectionCommission over holding of polls, though political parties aredivided over whether voting can be peaceful given the volatilesituation.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the main votary for aseparate state of Gorkhaland, insists that the polls can beheld in the hills along with the rest of the state, but itsparticipation is not yet decided.

"Gorkhaland is our top priority. We will take a call onparticipation when the election comes," GJM general secretaryRoshan Giri told PTI.

Giri claimed that besides the hill constituencies ofDarjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, the GJM could be adeciding factor in at least nine other seats in the plainswhich have a sizeable presence of Nepali speaking populationlike Rajganj and Kalchini.

In contrast to the GJM stand, the ruling CPI-M and GorkhaNational Liberation Front of Subash Ghising said the situationwas not ripe for a peaceful election.

"It is impossible to hold a peaceful election in thehills in view of terror unleashed by the GJM. It is only theGJM which can hold rallies and carry out activity there. Manyof our political leaders have fled and are now living inSiliguri out of fear of GJM attacks," Darjeeling districtsecretary of CPI(M) Jibesh Sarkar said.

Asked if his party wants postponement of the polls in theHills, Sarkar said, "We are not saying that elections shouldnot be held in the hills, but should the EC decide to conductelections there, it should take the responsibility oforganising a peaceful poll." .

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