Kurseong’s BJP MLA Bishnu Prasad Sharma said he would be forced to contest the Lok Sabha polls as an Independent if his party nominates an “outsider” as its candidate in the Darjeeling seat.
Mr Sharma, a vocal advocate for a separate state of Gorkhaland, emphasised the historical success of the BJP in the seat since 2009.
However, he criticised the party for consistently selecting candidates with no ties to the Darjeeling hills.
“They just come, contest on the party ticket, win, and then they are nowhere to be found,” he said on Wednesday.
“This time, we want a good candidate, who has to be a son of the soil,” he added.
Mr Sharma urged his party to nominate a candidate with local roots, and said, “In case the demand is not met, then I will contest as an Independent candidate against my party’s official nominee. I have to respect the aspirations of the masses of the hills.” West Bengal BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said the party is monitoring the situation, and will make a decision at an appropriate time.
“The party will speak to Sharma. We are keeping an eye on the situation. The issue of nomination will be decided by the party leadership, and all of us have to abide by it,” he said.
Darjeeling, often referred to as the “queen of the hills”, has been a hotspot for political unrest, with promises of a separate Gorkhaland state and the implementation of the Sixth Schedule, granting autonomy to the tribal-inhabited region.
Traditional hill parties, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Gorkha National Liberation Front, alongside the BJP, boycotted the semi-autonomous council elections in 2022.
While the demand for the region’s separation from West Bengal is decades old, the Gorkhaland statehood movement gained momentum in 1986 under GNLF leader Subhash Ghisingh.
The movement resulted in numerous casualties and culminated in 1988 with the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The region experienced further unrest in 2017 during a 104-day-long strike in the Darjeeling hills.
BJP’s Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, while SS Ahluwalia won the 2014 elections. In 2019, BJP’s Raju Bista, a Gorkha from Manipur, won the election in the seat.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
2024 elections,Bishnu Prasad sharma,West bengal