BJP's Raju Bista Faces Challenges in Darjeeling Lok Sabha Re-Election Bid

The Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency faces a high-stakes battle in the 2024 elections, with the BJP's incumbent MP Raju Bista seeking re-election amid the Gorkhaland sentiment and split in the Gorkha vote.

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Rafia Tasleem
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BJP's Raju Bista Faces Challenges in Darjeeling Lok Sabha Re-Election Bid

BJP's Raju Bista Faces Challenges in Darjeeling Lok Sabha Re-Election Bid

The Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency is preparing for a high-stakes battle in the 2024 elections, with BJP's incumbent MP Raju Bista seeking re-election amid the Gorkhaland sentiment and support from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). However, Bista faces stiff competition from Trinamool Congress' (TMC) Gopal Lama and Congress' Munish Tamang.

The Gorkha vote, traditionally a deciding factor in the constituency, is anticipated to be divided this time around. The BJP's inability to deliver on its promise of a 'permanent political solution' for the Gorkhaland issue has left many locals disappointed. The emergence of new Gorkha parties like Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) and Humro Party has further complicated the political landscape, with the BGPM allying with the TMC and the Humro Party tying up with the Congress.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was scheduled to address a public meeting in Darjeeling on Sunday, failed to turn up due to 'inclement weather', triggering political 'turbulence' in the region. Shah's absence and the lack of specific commitments on the hills' issues in his remote speech have disappointed many in the Gorkha community. They feel the BJP has not fulfilled its promises made in the 2019 election manifesto, such as a 'permanent political solution' and tribal status for 11 Gorkha communities.

Why this matters: The Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency has been a stronghold of the BJP, with the party winning the seat in the last two elections. However, the changing political dynamics and the disillusionment among the Gorkha community over unfulfilled promises could potentially reshape the electoral outcome in 2024. The split in the Gorkha vote bank and the alliances formed by regional parties with the TMC and Congress add an element of uncertainty to the BJP's prospects.

Raju Bista, in an interview, expressed confidence in winning the seat by a greater margin than the previous election. He accused the TMC of neglecting Darjeeling and the tea gardens, and alleged corruption under the GJM leader Anit Thapa. Bista highlighted the central government's investments in infrastructure and development projects in the region, and said a solution to the Gorkha problem is close. If re-elected, his priorities include finding a permanent constitutional solution for certain Scheduled Tribes, improving health facilities, and focusing on youth employment and tourism in Darjeeling.

The BJP's manifesto does not mention the Gorkhaland issue or the inclusion of 11 Gorkha sub-tribes in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category, but Amit Shah has addressed these demands in an audio call with Bista. Shah emphasized that the BJP is committed to addressing the issues concerning the Darjeeling region and ensuring justice for the Gorkha community. He also criticized the TMC and the Left for not developing the Darjeeling hills and causing bloodshed, stating that only the BJP can bring peace to the region.

As the election campaign intensifies, the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency is set to experience a fierce battle between the BJP, TMC, and Congress. The outcome will largely depend on how the Gorkha vote is split and the ability of the candidates to address the long-

Key Takeaways

  • Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat faces high-stakes battle in 2024 elections.
  • BJP's Raju Bista seeks re-election, faces competition from TMC and Congress.
  • Gorkha vote divided due to BJP's unfulfilled promises and new regional parties.
  • Amit Shah's absence and lack of commitments disappoint Gorkha community.
  • Outcome depends on Gorkha vote split and candidates' ability to address issues.