The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections are set to take place after 10 years in the hilly terrains of Darjeeling in West Bengal on Sunday. A total of 318 candidates are in fray for the 45-member GTA, which is a semi-autonomous body formed in 2012.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Elections candidates
The Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) has fielded 36 candidates while the CPI(M) is contesting on 12 seats. The ruling TMC party has named 10 candidates, and the Congress five. The newly formed Hamro Party is the only political organisation to have fielded candidates on all 45 seats. In the recently held Darjeeling Municipality elections, the Hamro Party bagged 18 out of 32 seats, raising key local issues like education and access to basic amenities. As many as two-third out of the total candidates are Independents.
BJP, GNLF among parties not in fray
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) and All India Gorkha League (AIGL) have decided to boycott the elections as they feel that the “GTA is an obstacle in the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.” It has been a long demand for the Gorkhas, who are dominant in the region, as they believe that they are culturally and historically distant from the rest of the Bengali-speaking population. On the contrary, the central BJP leadership has rejected the demand for a separate state despite several Bengal BJP MPs and MLAs demanding for Gorkhaland. In one of his recent visits to the state, BJP national president JP Nadda stated that no pleas for the demand of a separate state will be entertained.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Elections: Issues at play
The main political issues revolve around unemployment and lack of access to basic amenities like all-weather roads, drinking water, education and medical facilities as there is only one hospital in the entire Darjeeling. For treating serious ailments people have to travel as far as Siliguri, which is about 60 kms away.
Before the GTA, the entire region came under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed back in 1988. After replacing the Council, the GTA comprises the Darjeeling and the Kurseong districts. After the last GTA’s term expired in 2017, the body is being run by administrative officials appointed by the Bengal government.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration elections schedule
As per the official notification, the elections will be held between 7 am to 4 pm.