Will the results of the GTA polls bring stability in Darjeeling hills?
Anit Thapa

Kolkata: The Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha, a political outfit all of nine months, is set to sweep the elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in the Darjeeling hills, pocketing 20 out of 45 seats, officials said.

The party, led by former GTA chairman Anit Thapa, is also leading in four seats.

Another newly floated Hamro Party, and the Trinamool Congress managed to bag eight and five seats each, even as five independent candidates emerged victorious in the GTA polls, the officials said.

This is for the first time that the TMC has managed to win seats in the GTA.

Polls to the GTA, the semi-autonomous council that governs the Darjeeling hills, were held on Sunday, after a decade marked by a series of changes in the region’s political dynamics.

“The counting of votes is still underway. The BGPM has won 20 and is leading in four seats. The Hamro Party has won eight and is leading in two seats. The TMC has won five seats,” an official said.

In September last year, Thapa, a close associate of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung, formed the BGPM.

The GJM swept the first and only GTA polls in 2012, winning all the seats. Elections could not be held in 2017 due to a violent statehood agitation, with a state-appointed administrative body taking over the reins of the council.

The GJM, BJP and GNLF had boycotted the polls this time.

The counting of votes for Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad in north Bengal also began this morning.

In Siliguri, counting started in nine seats of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (sub-divisional council), 22 panchayats, and four panchayat samitis at 8 am.

“The TMC is leading in five seats of the Mahakuma Parishad,” the official said.

By-elections were also held in six wards of six municipalities of the state. The TMC won four, whereas the Congress and the CPI(M) won one each.

The Congress retained ward number 2 of Jhalda Municipality in Purulia, winning it by a margin of 778 votes, whereas the Trinamool Congress won ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality in North 24 Parganas district.

By-polls were conducted in ward number 2 of Jhalda Municipality in Purulia, where sitting Congress councillor Tapan Kandu was shot dead in March, and ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality in North 24 Parganas district, where TMC councillor Anupam Dutta was gunned down.

CPI(M)’s Ashok Gangopadhyay won by a margin of 130 votes from ward number 16 of Chandannagar Municipality.

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