Bengal: Gurung’s siding with Mamata may cost BJP dearly

West Bengal: Bimal Gurung’s siding with Mamata may cost BJP dearly

Mamata Banerjee’s target will be to wrest the seats from BJP in the next Assembly elections and Gurung will be her main weapon

The sudden U-turn of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung in seeking to join forces with Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief may jeopardise BJP’s prospects in North Bengal and especially in the Darjeeling Hills in the 2021 Assembly elections.

Following his sudden appearance in Kolkata last week, Gurung accused BJP of not keeping the promises they made to him and walked out of the NDA accusing the saffron party of making false promises.

BJP’s main cause of concern with Gurung’s change of mind is losing its political ground in North Bengal where it almost wiped out the TMC in the last Lok Sabha elections.

Out of the 294 Assembly seats in West Bengal 54 are in North Bengal. According to the results of the last Lok Sabha elections, BJP led in 37 out of the 54 seats.

Mamata Banerjee’s target will be to wrest the seats from BJP in the next Assembly elections and Gurung will be her main weapon in a considerable number of seats with his influence on several Nepali-speaking communities.

With Gurung on Mamata’s side, BJP’s success in the last Lok Sabha elections in North Bengal with the twin factors of tribal and Nepali speaking voters may not work in the 2021 Assembly elections.

With the exception of the Chopra Assembly constituency, all the three Assembly seats in the plains under the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat have the presence of Nepali speaking voters. Overall the presence of Nepali speaking voters will put at least 14 Assembly seats in North Bengal under Gurung’s influence.

Since Gurung had returned to public life after a long gap of three years since the Gorkhaland agitation the question remains whether his influence on Nepali-speaking voters is still the same. The Benoy Tamang faction of the GJM may also become a key factor.

It remains to be seen whether the TMC supremo can successfully deal with the sensitive Gorkhaland issue and the key players associated with it or BJP retains its hold in North Bengal.