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Gorkha Janmukti Morcha wins three hill constituencies defeating JAP TMC GNLF

Bimal Gurung celebrating victory in kalimpong
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has won all the three seats from the three constituencies in the hills, defeating the allied forces of the Jan Andolan Party, the Trinamool Congress and the Gorkha National Liberation Front. However, the victory margin was a far cry from what the party had achieved in the 2011 Assembly election.
Amar Singh Rai, the GJM candidate from Darjeeling, polled 95,386 votes to defeat his closest rival Saradha Subba of the TMC by a margin of 49,913 votes, with her polling 45,473. In Kurseong, GJM candidate and former MLA Rohit Sharma got 86,947 votes as against 53,221 polled by TMC candidate Shanta Chhetri, with the win margin standing at 33,726 votes. Meanwhile, Kalimpong witnessed a close fight between GJM candidate Sarita Rai and JAP president Harka Bahadur Chhetri, with the former garnering 67,693 and the latter 56,262 votes. Rai managed to win by a margin of 11,431 votes.
Thursday evening saw euphoric scenes in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong as GJM supporters who had gathered near the counting centres started singing and dancing after the results were announced. In Darjeeling, GJM supporters burst firecrackers and distributed sweets. In Kalimpong, GJM president Bimal Gurung walked nearly 2km from the counting centre to Dambar Chowk distributing sweets, and in Kurseong, GJM supporters gathered at the railway station to celebrate and savour the moment of victory.
The GJM welcomed the victory but party leaders appeared a bit thoughtful with the margin of win as in the previous election, each party candidate had won resoundingly over their rivals, by at least 1 lakh votes. The GJM president though reacted realistically to the outcome saying there were several things to be addressed. “We were confident about our victory as the people are with us. A win is a win nonetheless irrespective of the margin. However, we will definitely identify our lapses and mend them,” said Gurung in Kalimpong.
The GJM chief also congratulated TMC chief Mamata Banerjee for retaining power and expressed hope that the two sides could work together for the welfare of the hill people. Meanwhile, Chhetri, the JAP candidate and party president, expressed optimism at the outcome. “In such a short span of time we have received good response from the people. We could have fared better had the election been conducted fairly. However, our party was not formed for elections and as such we will continue to work for the people,” Chhetri said, adding his party would contest all elections in the hills henceforth.
Amar Singh Rai said, “We respect the decision of the people but we have observed that votes in favour of the opposition have increased in comparison to previous polls.” Political observers said the lower victory margin for the GJM was the outcome of several factors and it has cast a shadow on the GJM even in victory. “Overall, the GJM’s vote bank was affected by the formation of the community development boards and the TMC-JAP- GNLF alliance. In Kalimpong, the JAP played the separate district card to their advantage and managed to snatch votes,” an observer said.(EOIC)

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