Gorkhaland Territorial Administration election: Bimal Gurung, Roshan Giri's names struck off voters' list
The names of Bimal Gurung, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri and their families were on Wednesday struck off from the voter's list due to their prolonged absence from Darjeeling constituency.
KOLKATA: Long-due elections to the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) may soon be held but without Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung contesting it. The speculations of impending elections were fueled in the political circles of Darjeeling after the names of Bimal Gurung, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri and their families were on Wednesday struck off from the voter's list due to their prolonged absence from Darjeeling constituency.
Senior Darjeeling administration officials stated that Darjeeling Electoral Office had earlier stuck notices on the residences of over 100 people including the two GJM leaders summoning them. However, the two leaders and their families failed to turn up. "Those who responded to the notice and presented their justification did not get their names struck but those who did not come were inevitably struck off from the electoral list," a senior official said.
The two GJM leaders are in hiding since the beginning of the 105-day Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of the state in June last year. Cases under Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC sections related to murder, riot and arson have been pressed against Gurung. The district administration claims that the duo is hiding in Nepal.
The district administration has stated that it was natural to strike off the names of people absent from a constituency during revision of the electoral list. As per Election Commission rules, if a person is dead, absconding or does not reside in a residential address for more than six months, his or her name will be struck off from the voter's list during revision. However, the persons are first sent notices giving them time to present their case. After serving of the notice, the absconding GJM leaders had vowed to fight the notice at the Calcutta High Court but no such move was taken since then.
GJM has not issued any statement on the striking of the names of the leaders from the electoral list.
The move has put a big question mark on the political future of the absconding pro-Gorkhaland leaders as voter cards and address proof are required for contesting elections.
Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa faction of the GJM are currently heading the Board of Administrators (BoA) of GTA. However, the tenure of the BoA of GTA has expired and is elections are due since August last year.
Many in the political circles of Darjeeling believe that GTA elections may now be held soon after the striking of names of Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri from the electoral list to ensure easy victory of the pro-state administration faction of the GJM led by Tamang and Thapa.
"Legally and technically, the district administration is entitled to revise the election list but the Darjeeling district administration is using this rule to target those Gorkhaland supporters against whom various cases have been filed and who have remained underground for fear of injustice," political analyst Upendra Pradhan said.