The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has lost its first ever election since its formation in 2007 with the Trinamul Congress securing majority on the managing committee of Panchabatti Higher Secondary School, which is in the GTA constituency of the hill party's general secretary, Roshan Giri.
In the elections which were held at the school yesterday, both the Morcha and Trinamul had fielded six candidates each for the six seats up for grabs. Trinamul won four seats, while the Morcha had to remain content with only two.
Asked about the results, K.M. Silal, the headmaster of the school in Kurseong subdivision, said: "This is the first time that elections to the managing committee were held in our school. In the polls, four seats went to Trinamul-backed candidates, while two were won by the Morcha-backed nominees. Of the 374 guardians, 235 cast their votes."
The Trinamul candidates who won the polls were Marchen Lepcha (121 votes), Nima Tamang (116), Purna Bahadur Rai (121) and Sujit Khawash (109). The Morcha winners were Saran Silal (136) and Dil Raj Mukhia (109). Of the 12 candidates, the six who bagged most votes are elected to the managing committee.
|First electoral loss for Morcha - Trinamul wins school poll|
"This time, we decided to contest the elections and the results clearly suggest that the downfall of the Morcha has started. People in the hills now believe in Trinamul which is working with the slogan of peace and development. The managing committee election results are an indicator of the mood at the grassroots level," said N.B. Khawash, the general secretary, Trinamul (hills).
Since the Morcha's formation on October 7, 2007, the party has faced elections to municipalities, GTA Sabha and the Assembly once, and to Lok Sabha twice. In all the polls, the party had won convincingly. This is not to suggest that the Morcha has won in each and every booth during the elections. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the Morcha did lose from a number of booths.
Panchayat elections have not been held in the hills since 2000.
The Morcha's loss in the school managing committee elections clearly suggests that things are not absolutely under its control and more so when it is being held in Giri's GTA constituency.
Sujit Khawash, a Trinamul winner, said: "The Morcha had tried to browbeat our candidates and they had used their full might to grab all the seats on the managing committee. However, the people of the area have fearlessly given their mandate."
The elections were held amid tight security in the school, which is 24km from Kurseong town.
Silal has said the school managing committee consists of six elected members, three nominated members from the teaching staff, one from the non-teaching staff, the headmaster, a founding member, a representative of the education department and a nominee of the GTA Sabha.
Told about the elections, Giri refused to attach much importance to the results. "The elections have got nothing to do with politics. This is an election to a managing committee of a school and we are not attaching much importance to it. That is all that I have to say."