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BJP Fields Darjeeling’s Sitting MP SS Ahluwalia From Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha Seat in Bengal

With this, the BJP has announced 408 candidates for the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls which will start on April 11 and continue till May 19.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:April 7, 2019, 4:05 PM IST
BJP Fields Darjeeling’s Sitting MP SS Ahluwalia From Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha Seat in Bengal
File photo of Union minister SS Ahluwalia. (Getty Image)

Kolkata: Fourteen days after replacing Union minister SS Ahluwalia with Raju Singh Bista in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP on Sunday sprung a surprise by fielding Ahluwalia from the Burdwan-Durgapur parliamentary seat in West Bengal.

The party chose Raju Singh Bista, who is backed by Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Bimal Gurung faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), after GJM and GNLF opposed Ahluwalia’s candidature from the Hills.

“I'm grateful to Waheguru & thankful to the Party, Shri Narendra Modiji & Shri Amit Shahji for reposing faith in me yet again & nominating me to contest Lok Sabha from Bardhaman-Durgapur, an area (where) I spent most of my youth. I look forward to serving the people of Bardhaman and Durgapur,” Ahluwalia tweeted.

Ahluwalia is a four-time Rajya Sabha MP and Union minister for Electronics and Information Technology. He will contest TMC’s Mamtaz Sanghamita, Congress’s Ranajit Mukherjee and CPI(M)’s Abhas Roy Choudhury from the new parliamentary seat.

Sources told News 18 that another reason why the BJP decided not field Ahluwalia again from Darjeeling was because of the anger among the locals for his long absence from the hills.

Presently, the party has two Lok Sabha seats from Bengal, including Asansol and Darjeeling, and it would not like to lose either of the seats – especially at a time when the party president Amit Shah has set the target of 23 seats in Bengal.

In 2017, the GNLF lodged a missing complaint against Ahluwalia for not visiting his constituency despite violent unrest there for more than a month. Angry over his absence, the GNLF supporters put up several missing posters of Ahluwalia across Darjeeling and other parts of the Hills.

This was not for the first time the local people felt cheated (over separate Gorkhaland) by the outsider candidates. In August 2013, the Gorkhaland Task Force, an alliance of pro-Gorkhaland political parties, filed a missing person report at the Kalimpong police station against former Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh.

Then, the Gorkhaland Task Force had alleged that the BJP leader had been missing from Darjeeling at a time when the entire region was agitating for a separate state.

The GJM is associated with the BJP since 2009, but this time after the alliance with GNLF – the leadership in the hills are against the candidature of Ahluwalia and adamant over their demand for Gorkhaland.

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