Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee announced here on Saturday that her party would withdraw its candidates from the elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in Darjeeling district, a move which will make sure that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) sweeps all the seats uncontested in the proposed autonomous body. “Giving priority to the interests of the people of Bengal, we have taken a decision to withdraw our candidates who are contesting the GTA elections,” she said at a rally in the city.

Describing it as a “big” decision, she said she didn’t want any fight between the GJM and her party. Ms. Banerjee’s announcement came just minutes after senior GJM leader Harka Bhahadur Chhetri claimed that as long as she was the Chief Minister, the hills would stay together with the State.

The GJM is already set to take control of the GTA, with 28 of its candidates contesting unopposed in the GTA, which has 45 seats. The Trinamool had filed nominations to contest only 17 seats. Since the last date for withdrawal of candidature was July 13, its candidates cannot technically opt out.