STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Siliguri, 21 March
The Congress is bracing for a ‘direct fight’ with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha election for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.
Congress candidate Sujay Ghatak today said the poll battle will exclusively be between him and BJP candidate SS Ahluwalia.
"According to our party policy, the Congress will keep the BJP at bay. I do not consider Trinamul Congress candidate as my rival, " Mr Ghatak told reporters here.
Mr Ghatak, the Darjeeling district Congress general secretary and a member of the mayor-in-council of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC), PWD department, said he would contest the election on the issue of development.
"If elected, I will work for the development of the constituency. I have started the election campaign from today and the campaign in the Hills will begin on Sunday," he said.
He added that the Congress was completely against the demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland. "We have already made our stand clear. Congress will never support bifurcation of the state," he said. The Congress candidate further expressed hope that he would manage to bag a good number of votes.
"It is a proven fact that the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha calls the shots in the Hills, but at the same time, the Congress has its traditional vote bank in the plains. I am hopeful of getting a good response from the plains,” he said. Out of the four Assembly segments in the plains, the Congress has two MLAs--one in Matigara-Naxalbari and another in Phansidewa. Hamidul Rahman won the Chopra constituency on Congress ticket, while he later switched allegiance over to the Trinamul Congress. “But we still have a stronghold in Chopra. I am also hopeful that people of the SMC area will vote me," he said. Asked if the Congress plans to seek support from other political parties, Mr Ghatak said the party will take a final call on the matter.
"We have given the names of some political parties to the leadership, and they will take a final decision,” he said.