In a shot in the arm for BJP, two senior leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad on Monday joined the party and the GJM pledged support to BJP candidates in West Bengal, including the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.
Former AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and senior AGP leader and former minister Hitendra Nath Goswami joined the BJP along with a large number of their supporters in New Delhi and were welcomed by BJP president Rajnath Singh.
In another development, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung announced that his outfit will extend support to the BJP in West Bengal.
He was accompanied by two of the Morcha’s general secretaries Raju Pradhan and Vinay Tamang.
“The GJM has expressed its desire to support BJP candidates in Bengal for Lok Sabha polls, including Darjeeling seat,” BJP national executive member Siddharth Nath Singh, who was present at the meeting, told PTI.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls also, the GJM had supported senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh for the Darjeeling seat, who had emerged as a winner.
Asked about BJP’s candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling, Mr. Singh said, “It will be decided by the party”.
GJM’s support to BJP comes at a time when ruling Trinamool Congress has nominated footballer Bhaichung Bhutia from the Darjeeling seat.
The GJM, whose support is a deciding factor in the hills, has decided not to support Bhaichung.
“The real fight in Bengal is between TMC and BJP,” Mr. Singh said.
Mr. Gurung had recently claimed that GJM support would be the deciding factory not only in the Darjeeling parliamentary seat, but also in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Lok Sabha seats.
In Assam, BJP has already declared five of its candidates including three sitting MPs.
Sources said Mr. Patowary will be contesting from Barpeta constituency.