In total, North Bengal has 54 assembly seats and they are in Malda, North Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, and South Dinajpur. This region has 8 Lok Sabha seats and in 2019, the BJP had swept this part by winning seven of eight seats with support from Gurung's GJM.
West Bengal Assembly Election 2021: Amid defections and mass exodus, Mamata Banerjee has finally got the man behind the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in the hilly region — Darjeeling and Kalimpong — of North Bengal beside her. Feeling betrayed by the BJP, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) founder and president Bimal Gurung last year in October announced that he would leave the saffron party to join the Trinamool Congress.
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Bimal Gurung is a stalwart supporter of Gorkhaland. His outfit GJM has a significant presence in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri — they together have 13 assembly seats. The GJM also has minor presence in three other districts of North Bengal, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and North Dinajpur — these three districts have 23 assembly constituencies. This number is huge considering the kind of close contest is expected between the BJP and the TMC.
In total, North Bengal has 54 assembly seats and they are in Malda, North Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, and South Dinajpur. This region has 8 Lok Sabha seats and in 2019, the BJP had swept this part by winning seven of eight seats with support from Gurung’s GJM. In this election, the saffron party had won 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.
Now with Gurung joining Mamata may have serious repercussions for the saffron party which was hoping to repeat its parliamentary performance. This time, the TMC has given three assembly seats — Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong — to the GJM. The GJM had won these three seats in 2011 and 2016.
The TMC had been trying to get Gurung’s support but the latter backed the BJP thinking it would return the favour by accepting his outfit’s Gorkhaland demand. For this reason, Gurung repeatedly snubbed Mamata’s overtures to get his support for TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In that election, Gurung backed BJP’s SS Ahluwalia who won by nearly 2 lakh votes.
In 2019, Gurung again supported BJP’s Raju Bista and helped him win from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. However, his relationship with the saffron party soured after the BJP quietly told him that it wasn’t in favour of the separate Gorkhaland. Now that Gurung has announced his support to the TMC, the BJP will have to play its cards smartly in the hilly region to build further on what it had achieved in North Bengal in 2019.
Polling in North Bengal will take place in Phase-4 on April 10, 5 April 17, 6 on April 22, 7 on April 26 and 8 on April 29. The results will be declared on May 2.