The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) swept the first-ever elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), winning all the 45 seats in the regional autonomous body.
The GJM had gained control of the body with its candidates winning from 28 constituencies unopposed. Elections to the remaining 17 constituencies were held on July 29 and the results were announced on Thursday.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee announced on July 21 the withdrawal of her party candidates from the fray, making things easier for the GJM.
The only candidate who put up a serious challenge to the GJM was Sanchabir Subba. Contesting as an Independent from the Gitdabling constituency in Kalimpong subdivision, he lost by 677 votes.
Supporters of the GJM came out on the streets at various places in the Darjeeling hills, singing and dancing to celebrate the victory.
“The celebrations and expressions of joy were spontaneous. For the people of the hills it is a big achievement that a system has been put in place that will fulfil their aspirations after four years of agitation,” GJM spokesperson and MLA from Kalimpong Harka Bahadur Chettri told The Hindu here.
He said the election results have proved that those opposing the party and claiming that it had lost its support base in the hills were wrong.
The GJM leadership said the setting up of the GTA had provided them an opportunity to usher in development of the region. The focus of the GTA would be on development of basic infrastructure of the region with the active support of the State government and the Centre.
“We will present the GTA as a new model for development,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said adding that the regional autonomous body would lay emphasis on education, healthcare and tourism.
Meanwhile, preparations are on for the swearing-in ceremony of members of the GTA on August 4 at Darjeeling where Ms. Banerjee will be present. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has been invited for the event.