Siliguri: The ruling Trinamool Congress changed its candidate for the Matigara-Naxalbari assembly constituency without any prior announcement, taking many by surprise. Rajen Sundas, a retired bureaucrat, is the new official candidate of TMC from the constituency.
Sundas filed his nomination from the Matigara-Naxalbari seat on Tuesday with much fanfare. His nomination convoy was accompanied by local groups of traditional drums. He had recently joined the party.
The TMC had already given ticket to Naliniranajan Ray from this constituency in the Darjeeling district. Ray was replaced suddenly though he had already started campaigning with full force. Many posters, banners and flex boards were already placed across the constituency to promote Ray’s candidature. The sudden change of candidature by TMC has created speculations of political pressure on the party.
The TMC officially announced that it had become imperative to replace Ray as there were some mistakes in his nomination papers. But the election experts find a well-calculated political move by TMC. The Gorkhas are dominant voters in this constituency and their support can change the fate of any candidate. The TMC has taken the step to nominate a candidate from the constituency favourable to the Gorkhas.
However, a section of political observers also say the TMC changed its decision to replace Ray under pressure from Bimal Gurung, the founder of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and an ally of the TMC. A large number of Gurung’s supporters had also joined the procession of Rajen Sundas while he went to file nomination.
The BJP and Left party leaders in the district said the last moment change of candidate will leave a bad impact among the party workers leading to a split in votes.
However, the TMC is confident about winning from this seat with support from the GJM. The TMC district chairman Rnajan Sarkar, Rajyasabha MP Shanta Chetri also accompanied Sundas for the filling of nomination.
The CPI(M) candidate Ashok Bhattacharya has started his campaign and he is holding meetings with voters in small gatherings instead of big rallies. He is attending 10-12 such meetings daily and keeps a record of the issues raised by the people.
The Matigara-Naxalbari assembly seat will go to polls on April 17.