New Delhi/Kolkata: The BJP will field senior leader Jaswant Singh — under EC scanner for alleged distribution of cash to voters in Rajasthan — from Darjeeling in the coming election.
A 10-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) team, spearheading a movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland, comprising the Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas in North Bengal, met party’s PM-candidate L K Advani during the evening and pledged support for Singh’s candidature.
Singh and party co-in-charge for West Bengal S S Ahluwalia were also present at the meeting. After meeting Advani, spokesperson Balbir Punj told The Indian Express: “Jaswant Singh shall be our candidate from Darjeeling.” Dawa Sherpa, initially declared the BJP candidate from the seat, has agreed to withdraw from the fray. He was also present at the meeting. The seat is currently represented by Congress’s Dawa Narbula.
Singh said he met Advani to “clarify” the issue of alleged distribution of cash by him in Barmer — where his son is in the fray. “I met him to clarify that it (distribution of money to the poor) is part of our tradition,” he said.
Ever since GJM’s Bimal Gurung met Advani at an NDA dinner in February this year, he had been sounding out the BJP to field a “national figure” from the seat, offering him the outfit’s “unconditional support”. Recalling that Inderjeet — who, like Singh, was not a Darjeeling native — represented the seat in the past, sources said the GJM “would not have agreed to any Bengali-speaking leader.” The party feels that Singh’s one-rank-one-pension demand for ex-servicemen is likely to go down well with the electorate in Darjeeling.
Roshan Giri of the GJM told The Indian Express: “The BJP assured us of support on the issue of Gorkhaland and it said it would make a mention of it in its manifesto. We requested the BJP to field Jaswantji from Darjeeling and if it does, our party will support it”.