BJP, TMC fight for one-upmanship in Darjeeling, both with support from Gorkha factions

Battlefield Darjeeling lok sabha election 2014
The crown of Bengal has always been a thorn in the heart for Trinamool Congress. Since its formation in 1998, the Mamata Banerjee-led party has not been able to win Darjeeling even once.
In fact, the Gorkha-dominated constituency has been electing BJP representatives since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the hope that a separate state from West Bengal would be carved out for them.
This time, however, Trinamool has the backing of a prominent Gorkha Janmukti Morcha faction led by Binay Tamang. The BJP, on the other hand, is being backed by the main GJM faction led by Bimal Gurung, and also the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
The BJP has replaced sitting MP Surinder Singh Ahluwalia with Raju Singh Bisht this time. Trinamool has fielded former GJM MLA Amar Singh Rai. It's practically a straight contest between the two as the CPI(M) and Congress have been rendered irrelevant in this constituency over the past few years.

This election is different for Darjeeling in another aspect as well. For the first time in three decades, the separate Gorkhaland issue has taken a backseat in this Lok Sabha constituency. Regional aspirations, however, prevail.
For the BJP, which has set a target of winning 22 out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, Darjeeling holds a special place. The GJM has been supporting BJP in the last two Lok Sabha elections in the hope that it is their best bet to realise Gorkhaland.
Darjeeling has sent BJP's Jaswant Singh and SS Ahluwalia to Parliament in 2009 and 2014 respectively. In 2014, except Trinamool, all major political parties, including BJP, CPI(M) and Congress, faced massive erosion in their vote share.
While the vote share of CPI(M) and Congress went down by 11 per cent, the BJP saw a vote share plunge of 9 per cent. Despite that, the BJP retained the seat with a 17 per cent vote margin. Also, this was the first time Trinamool finished second in the seat.
Darjeeling, the epicentre of the separate Gorkhaland movement, has often seen violent protests, leading to deaths, arson and bandhs - crippling social and economic activities - in the last three decades. This time, the constituency goes to polls on April 18.
Battlefield west Bengal lok sabha election 2014

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool had won 34 seats. The BJP and Left Front won two seats each, while the Congress pocketed four.
For Mamata Banerjee, who has been credited with bringing an end to the 34-year-old Left government in West Bengal, there has been no looking back since 2009. Trinamool swept every election held in the state since then - from Lok Sabha to panchayat polls - but could never cut a slice in Darjeeling's hills.
Trinamool had allied with the BJP in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections and with the Congress in the 2004 Parliamentary polls to fight the Left Front. In 1999, Trinamool Congress candidate Tarun Roy came third here.

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Trinamool has the backing of a prominent Gorkha Janmukti Morcha faction led by Binay Tamang. The BJP, on the other hand, is being backed by the main GJM faction led by Bimal Gurung, and also the Gorkha National Liberation Front.

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