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Bimal Gurung will be in Rival Harka's Kalimpong on May 19

Harka Bahadur Chettri - Bimal Gurung
Bimal Gurung will be in Kalimpong, the home turf of hill rival Harka Bahadur Chhetri, on May 19 when the votes will be counted and Bengal's fate be made known.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha did not explain Gurung's move to leave for Kalimpong today and stay put till the counting is done, but sources in the hills said the focus on Chhetri's backyard betrayed Gurung's unease regarding the Kalimpong seat from where his one-time party colleague is contesting.
Gurung and Chhetri had a public falling out after which the Kalimpong-based leader floated the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) that allied with Trinamul for the elections.
Sources in the Morcha, however, said Gurung who had earlier said that he "would dance at Motor Stand (in Kalimpong) on the counting day" suggesting that his party's victory was certain, was still confident about the party's performance.
Today, Gurung took a circuitous route to reach Kalimpong. "He left for Mirik and attended a prayer meet for B.K. Rai, a central committee leader of the Morcha and a former DGHC councillor from Mirik, who died recently. Gurung headed for Kalimpong late in the afternoon," said a source.
After visiting Mirik, 35km from Darjeeling, Gurung returned to Jorebunglow and then he took the Peshok Road to go to Kalimpong, covering a total distance of around 110km.
The distance between Darjeeling and Kalimpong is around 45km.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri accompanied Gurung to Mirik and returned to Darjeeling from there.
"The fact that Gurung will be in Kalimpong, instead of Darjeeling, on the counting day indicates that the Morcha has been uneasy about the JAP," an observer said.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, Chhetri, who was then the Morcha candidate from Kalimpong, had won by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.
This time Chhetri, who quit the Morcha in September last year and floated the JAP, is contesting against Morcha's Sarita Rai in Kalimpong.
Going by the crowds that the JAP leader has attracted during the campaign, the contest could be a close call.
Sources said the Morcha leadership has accepted that the party's winning margin will come down drastically this time. "Our internal estimates suggest a winning margin of around 15,000 votes," said a hill party leader.
A Morcha source mentioned Gurung's promise to dance at the Kalimpong Motor Stand and said: "That is why he left for Kalimpong."
According to Morcha sources, Gurung has "strictly" told all elected GTA Sabha members not to leave their respective constituencies on the counting day.
"He has issued an express directive to all elected GTA Sabha members not to leave their constituencies," said a party leader who could not, however, explain the thought behind the directive.
The newly-formed JAP, which is facing the nine-year-old Morcha in its stronghold, also sounded confident of a victory.
"We are confident of winning Kalimpong," said Amar Lama, a bureau member of the JAP.
Chhetri's party is certain that their success in Kalimpong would have a cascading affect in expanding their strength in Kurseong and Darjeeling subdivisions - two areas where the JAP has not made any significant inroads so far.(TT)

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