Gangtok, 19 Apr:
Election Commission of India, on Friday, announced that the bye-elections to the Darjeeling Assembly seat will be held on 19 May. The results will be declared on 23 May, along with the 2019 General Election results.
The poll panel said that the election notification will be issued on 22 April, and the last date for filing nominations will be 29 April. The last date of withdrawal of candidature will be 02 May.
The Darjeeling Assembly seat fell vacant after the incumbent, Amar Singh Rai, resigned from the post to contest the MP seat.
Mr Rai was a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha MLA elected in 2016 and now contests the MP election on a Trinamool Congress ticket.
GJM Binay faction and Trinamool Congress have come together to field Mr Rai for the Darjeeling MP seat, hoping that the ‘son of the soil’ will draw votes for Trinamool which has never won a Lok Sabha seat in Darjeeling.
Meanwhile, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has objected to a GJM MLA contesting on a Trinamool symbol.
Amar Singh Rai is former vice-principal of Loreto College and in 2011, was made chairperson of the Darjeeling Municipality after winning municipality elections. He won the Assembly seat as a GJM nominee in 2016.
Mr Rai was also appointed to the board of administrators of the Binay Tamang-headed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) as a member in charge of education.
For the Lok Sabha elections held on 18 April, Mr Rai was up against BJP’s Raju Bista, supported by the Bimal Gurung faction of GJM; Jan Aandolan Party’s Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri; Congress candidate Shankar Malakar; and CPI[M]’s Saman Pathak. The main contest is expected to be between TMC and BJP, both of which have different factions of GJM backing their candidates.