Voting peaceful for GTA elections in Darjeeling, 57pc turnout recorded

Elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in Darjeeling hills and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad in north Bengal passed off peacefully on Sunday, with a turnout of 57 per cent and 78.30 per cent, respectively, officials said.Elections to the GTA, the semi-autonomous council that governs the Darjeeling Hills, were held after a decade marked by a series of changes in the regions political dynamics.Voting for GTA, which began at 7 am, continued till 4 pm, while in Siliguri, the exercise came to a close at 5 pm, they said.Polling has been peaceful and no untoward incident was reported.


PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 26-06-2022 19:34 IST | Created: 26-06-2022 19:34 IST
Voting peaceful for GTA elections in Darjeeling, 57pc turnout recorded
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Elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in Darjeeling hills and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad in north Bengal passed off peacefully on Sunday, with a turnout of 57 per cent and 78.30 per cent, respectively, officials said.

Elections to the GTA, the semi-autonomous council that governs the Darjeeling Hills, were held after a decade marked by a series of changes in the region's political dynamics.

Voting for GTA, which began at 7 am, continued till 4 pm, while in Siliguri, the exercise came to a close at 5 pm, they said.

''Polling has been peaceful and no untoward incident was reported. Till 4 pm, GTA recorded around 57 per cent turnout. At Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, the percentage stood at 78.30 per cent. The figures might slightly go up as there were people still in queue,'' an official said.

GTA, which came into being in 2011, has 45 seats spread across Kalimpong district and parts of Darjeeling district. Voting is being held in 922 polling stations, of which five have been identified as critical.

Traditional hill parties such as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), besides the BJP, have boycotted the semi-autonomous council elections.

Newly floated Hamro Party is contesting in all the seats of GTA after having clinched the Darjeeling Municipality in the recent civic polls.

''We have boycotted the GTA polls as it doesn't represent the aspirations of the people of the hills. People here don't support GTA,'' GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said, claiming that the voting percentage would be far less this time than what was recorded during the civic polls a few months ago.

The GJM had swept the first and only GTA polls in 2012, winning all the seats. Elections could not be held in 2017 due to a violent statehood agitation, with a state-appointed administrative body taking over the reins of the council.

The Hamro Party, floated by Ajoy Edwards, a former GNLF leader and a renowned restaurateur in Darjeeling town, has emerged as a new political force in the hills.

''We are confident of winning the GTA elections,'' Edwards asserted.

In Siliguri, elections are being held in nine seats of the Mahakuma Parishad (sub-divisional council), 22 panchayats, and four panchayat samitis.

Polling was more or less peaceful in Siliguri, except for a few stray incidents.

There were reports of clashes among supporters of the TMC, opposition Congress and an Independent candidate in the Phasidewa area in Siliguri. A police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation, the officials said.

''The TMC has turned polls into a farce in Bengal. There is not a single election in which incidents of violence don't take place,'' BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.

Dubbing the allegations as baseless, TMC chief spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said the party would register a resounding victory in Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls.

''Those who have no connection with the masses make such allegations during elections, fearing defeat. The TMC will win this time, too, because of its developmental work in the last 10 years,'' he said.

The Congress and the BJP have also accused the TMC of bringing people from outside the Mahakuma Parishad-administered area to engage them in ''proxy voting'', a charge dubbed as ''baseless'' by the ruling party.

By-elections were also held in six wards of six municipalities of the state.

By-polls were conducted in ward number 2 of Jhalda Municipality in Purulia, where sitting Congress councillor Tapan Kandu was shot dead in March, and ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality in North 24 Parganas district, where TMC councillor Anupam Dutta was gunned down.

Ward 2 in Jhalda Municipality recorded around 80.86 per cent voting till 5 pm, while ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality registered a turnout of around 58.69 per cent.

The elections were also held in ward 3 of Bhatpara Municipality, ward 16 of Chandannagar Municipality and ward 4 of Dumdum Municipality, as one of the candidates in each of these places died ahead of the polls in February. Voting percentages registered till 5 pm in these wards were around 74.41 per cent, 73.11 per cent, and 72.09 per cent, respectively.

In ward number 29 of South Dumdum Municipality, around 69.36 voting percentage was recorded.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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