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Mamata’s close aide Anit Thapa emerged victorious in Darjeeling Panchayat Elections, BJP’s multi-party alliance failed

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In the West Bengal Panchayat elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to work its magic in the Darjeeling hill region. The BJP has been successful in not just one, but three consecutive Lok Sabha elections in Darjeeling.

Not only that, the BJP had won the Darjeeling Assembly seat in both the 2019 by-election and the 2021 Assembly elections. In the Assembly elections, the BJP had also secured victories in two out of the three Assembly seats in the Darjeeling hill region, namely Darjeeling and Kurseong. Despite all these victories, the BJP’s lotus did not bloom in the current West Bengal Panchayat elections in the Darjeeling hill region. This was the case even when the BJP fought the battle in alliance with several prominent leaders from the hills under the “United Gorkha Alliance.”

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In this Panchayat election held after 23 years in the Darjeeling hill region, Mamata Banerjee’s trusted ally Anit Thapa’s Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) emerged victorious. The BJP and its various constituents in the United Gorkha Alliance managed to secure only a few seats in some Gram Panchayats.

38 out of 70 Gram Panchayats won by BGPM

Firstly, talking about Gram Panchayats, out of a total of 598 seats in the 501 electoral areas of the hilly regions under Darjeeling district in the Darjeeling hill area, Anit Thapa’s BGPM emerged victorious on 349 seats. On the other hand, Independent candidates won on 185 seats. The BJP stood in third place, having to settle with only 59 seats. BJP had fielded its candidates on 211 seats. None of the other constituents of this alliance could secure any seats. Trinamool Congress managed to win only 5 seats. It had fielded its candidates on 26 seats. On the other hand, parties like Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Congress failed to win any seats.

Out of a total of 70 Gram Panchayats, Anit Thapa’s BGPM emerged victorious on the highest number of 38 Gram Panchayats. Meanwhile, 14 Gram Panchayats went to Independent candidates. The BJP had to settle with only 3 Gram Panchayats. However, this can be considered an achievement for the BJP as it had remained unsuccessful in the Panchayats of the hills until now. On the other hand, the results for 15 Gram Panchayats are inconclusive.

Similarly, talking about Panchayat Samiti, out of the 156 Panchayat Samiti seats in 5 blocks, Anit Thapa’s BGPM waved its flag on the highest number of 96 seats. In second place, Independent candidates secured control over 41 seats. BJP received only 19 seats and remained in third position, while other parties remained unsuccessful.

GTA also has BGPM occupation

After the year 2000, that is, after a full 23 years, in this year 2023, there were two-tier panchayat elections in the Darjeeling hill region. In other words, only the elections for Gram Panchayats and Panchayat Samiti were held. Zila Parishad election did not take place because there is a separate autonomous administrative system for the hills called the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). In that too, BGPM won the previous year’s 2022 elections and its chief executive is Anit Thapa.

What did the BJP MP say?

Under the leadership of the BJP, there is the Gorakha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) led by Bimal Gurung, the Gorakha National Liberation Front (GNLF) founded by Subhash Ghisingh, which used to be the dominant force in the hills, the newly emerged power of Ajay Edward’s “Hamro Party” that emerged as the winner in the Darjeeling municipality elections in 2022, and moreover, there were the Revolutionary Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) and the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) in the electoral arena, led by R. B. Rai.

Regarding this “United Gorkha Alliance,” Member of Parliament from Darjeeling and the national spokesperson of the BJP, Raju Bista, had said that “this United Gorkha Alliance has been formed to free the Darjeeling hill region from tyranny, oppression, injustice, and destruction and is in the electoral field.”

But now that the election results have turned against their alliance, their tune has changed.

“For the BJP and our alliance, this election was a restoration of democracy in the hills. I believe our original goal has been achieved. A large number of Panchayat seats have been won by independent candidates supported by our alliance. It shows that people have voted for their unity against tyranny and corruption and for a clean and honest Panchayat. This is our biggest victory. I congratulate all those who have won. And those who haven’t won, I encourage them to work as ‘checks and balance agents’ in their villages. In this way, we can ensure ‘zero corruption.’ Ensuring corruption-free and nepotism-free development is now our top priority,” he said after the results.

He further said, “As a Member of Parliament, I am willing to work with all those people who want to implement grassroots level development, clean and honest Panchayat system, whether they are associated with any party. I express my gratitude to the leaders and workers of my alliance parties, BJP leaders and workers, and all those who made tireless efforts to ensure that the message of ‘corruption-free,’ ‘commission-free,’ and ‘scam-free’ development reaches every individual.

What did Anit Thapa say?

Regarding the one-sided victory of the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) in the hills, its chief, Anit Thapa, said, “This is the victory of the common people. During the GTA elections, we had promised that the hills, which have been deprived of the Panchayat system for 23 years, will not remain deprived of this fundamental administrative system, and we have demonstrated this by conducting the Panchayat elections once again. The people have given us this victory and have placed their hopes in development. Now we will showcase development.”

He further said, “If Raju Bista is a representative in the central government, he should also work here. Become a collaborator in development. We are committed to serving the people and the development of the region in better coordination even with the opposition. Furthermore, we are committed to preserving our ‘regional identity.’ Along with that, all-round development is also our priority. We will always remain dedicated to it.”

It is worth mentioning that after a total of 23 years, another significant aspect of this two-tier Panchayat election was that unlike election violence seen throughout the state, the elections here remained peaceful. Moreover, the tradition of the hill parties winning in the hills continued.

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Main Media is a hyper-local news platform covering the Seemanchal region, the four districts of Bihar – Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia, and Katihar. It is known for its deep-reported hyper-local reporting on systemic issues in Seemanchal, one of India’s most backward regions which is largely media dark.

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