“Will Fight As Independent If…”: A Bengali BJP Leader Issues A Warning Regarding The 2024 Elections

Kolkata: Bishnu Prasad Sharma, the BJP MLA for Kurseong, said that if his party nominates an “outsider” as its candidate for the Darjeeling seat, he would be compelled to run as an Independent in the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Sharma, a strong proponent of Gorkhaland becoming its own state, emphasized the BJP’s track record of victory in the seat since 2009.

He did, however, take issue with the party’s repeated selection of candidates who had no connection to the Darjeeling hills.

“They just come, contest on the party ticket, win, and then they are nowhere to be found,” he said on Wednesday.

“This time, we want a good candidate, who has to be a son of the soil,” he said.

In addition to pleading with his party to choose a candidate with local ties, Mr. Sharma threatened to run as an independent against the party’s official nominee if his demands were not granted. I am obliged to honor the hopes of the people living in the hills.” According to West Bengal BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharya, the party is keeping an eye on the circumstances and would decide when it is suitable.

The party is going to talk to Sharma. We are monitoring the circumstances. We all have to respect the party leadership’s decision about the nomination,” he said.

Referred to as the “queen of the hills,” Darjeeling has been a focal point of political upheaval due to the introduction of the Sixth Schedule, which grants autonomy to the tribal-inhabited territory, and promises of a breakaway state for Gorkhaland.

The BJP and several traditional hill parties boycotted the semi-autonomous council elections in 2022, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Gorkha National Liberation Front.

Although the area has long called for its independence from West Bengal, the Gorkhaland statehood movement really took off in 1986, spearheaded by GNLF chief Subhash Ghisingh.

Many people were killed in the struggle, which came to an end in 1988 with the establishment of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. A 104-day strike in the Darjeeling hills in 2017 caused further instability in the area.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling seat; in the 2014 elections, SS Ahluwalia triumphed. The seat was won by Manipur-born Gorkha Raju Bista of the BJP in 2019.