The Jana Anodolan Party today said it would contest alone in elections to all four hill municipalities by positioning itself as an alternative to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Trinamul Congress.
The polls to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik municipalities are tentatively scheduled for May 14.
JAP president Harka Bahadur Chhetri said the people had enough of the Morcha, and a party based in the plains with a single-point agenda of development couldn't be an alternative.
"People have been deprived of basic facilities like road, water, electricity, education and health by a party (Morcha) seeped in corruption. Trinamul, on the other hand, has only got to offer development, which by itself is not bad, but every person in the hills in his heart aspires for a separate state. I would appeal to the people of the hills to give us a chance," he said.
Asked if the JAP would not accept the support of any other party, if it came without any condition, Chhetri said in the present political situation he did not see that happening.
"We have decided to go it alone in all four municipalities. I think we have been able to create our own space in the hills. Now, it is for the people to decide. Win or lose, the JAP is in for a long haul," he said.
Chhetri said unlike the Morcha, which only made promises, the JAP in a little over a year of its existence had delivered Kalimpong district. "On the demand of a separate state, which is close to the heart of all hill people, nothing has been done. The JAP is in a position to create a new roadmap and raise the issue at both the state and national levels. We have our achievements to show, others only make promises," said Chhetri.
Trinamul, too, is hoping to cash in on the Kalimpong district issue in the civic polls. The other rallying point for the ruling party is the 15 community-based development boards that the state government had set up in the hills.
"People are aware of the fact that it is our chief minister who delivered Kalimpong district. The development boards, too, are the brainchild of our chief minister. Look at the works these boards have been doing, particularly for the poor. We are confident all this will not be lost on the people at the time of voting," said a Kalimpong-based Trinamul leader.(TT)