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CPRM to contest Assembly election for the first time, alone

CPRM candidates with party president RB Rai
The bid for a united fight by anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha parties in the hills took a beating today when the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) announced its decision to contest the elections alone.
This is the first time that the CPRM will contest Assembly elections on its own since its formation in 1996. In previous elections, it had contested in alliance with other hill-based political parties.
The CPRM, along with Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) and Sikkim-Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch, had formed the Democratic Front to fight for restoration of democracy in the hills and to pursue the Madan Tamang murder case.
The CPRM today, however, announced its decision to contest the election alone.
The Democratic Front is scheduled to meet on Saturday.
Govind Chhetri, the spokesman for the CPRM, said: "We held a meeting of the central executive committee of the party. It has been decided that we will contest the elections alone. We have also finalised two names each for three hill constituencies."
Asked about the issue of fielding a consensus candidate from the Democratic Front, Chhetri said: "We have been holding a series of meetings. However, other parties have their own issues like the Sixth Schedule (GNLF) and the merger (between Sikkim and Darjeeling raised by the Ekikaran Manch). We, however, have only one issue and that is the demand for Gorkhaland. We cannot compromise on this issue."
The CPRM leader hinted that it was difficult for all the parties to come together given the varied demands. "We are still open to other options and if things work out we will consider withdrawing our candidates. However, given the way the negotiations are going on, we are not hopeful of Democratic Front fielding a common candidate," Chhetri said.
The CPRM today announced the names of Bindya Dukpa and Govind Chhetri from Darjeeling, Arun Ghatani and Rabin Rai from Kurseong, Kishore Pradhan and Mohan Poudyal from Kalimpong. "These names will be sent to the lower units and depending on their feedback, one of them will be chosen," said Chhetri.
Shankar Hang Subba, the convener of the Democratic Front, said: "Till the last moment we will try our best to field a consensus candidate. We want all parties to be as flexible as it is possible. Let us see how the Saturday meeting goes on."
The GNLF, a partner in the front, said that it would comment only after the party decides on the matter. Biren Lama, a central committee member, said: "We cannot make any comments now."(TT)

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