Bengal polls 2016: Harka Bahadur Chhetri to give GJM a tough fight this time

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Darjeeling, April 15: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the main political force in the Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal, will be facing a tough contest in this year's Assembly election, thanks to the ruling Trinamool Congress's (TMC) success in creating divisions in its ranks.

Last year, TMC supremo and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee succeeded in orchestrating the exit of Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the GJM strongman who won from Kalimpong by a massive margin of 1.01 lakh votes (the second-highest in the 2011 election) last time, from the Hill party.

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Chhetri floated his own Jan Andolan Party (JAP) earlier this year, posing a threat to the GJM, which had once eclipsed the late Subash Ghising's Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF). The JAP will contest the April 17 election and other Hills outfits like the GNLF and Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League have decided to back it.

Banerjee created a difference in the GJM's ranks after announcing her government's decision to set up Kalimpong as a separate district---a move which is aimed at weakening the GJM's movement for a separate Gorkahland, feel experts.

Chhetri is also credited with bringing a change in the Hill's politics by refusing to use the statehood issue as an election plank. He believes in having a friendly relation with the state government while striving for a change.

Will Chhetri's moderate methods see him overcome the powerful GJM in the upcoming election?

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