Kolkata | Jagran Politics Desk: The eight-phase assembly elections in West Bengal is nearly at its end as polling for five phases has been completed. So far, voting has been conducted in several important seats, including the Darjeeling Vidhan Sabha Constituency that went to the polls on April 17.

Darjeeling, which holds a significant Gorkha population, is one of those rare seats in West Bengal where the Left alliance has never managed to strengthen its control. Over the years, the Darjeeling Vidhan Sabha Constituency has been represented by different factions of Gorkhas, who have a strong presence at this seat.

Currently, Bharatiya Janata Party's Neeraj Zimba Tamang holds this seat. Zimba, a former spokesperson of Gorkha National Liberation Front, become an MLA from Darjeeling after he defeated Independent candidate Binoy Tamang by a margin of over 46,500 votes in the 2019 by-election.

By-elections were held in Darjeeling in 2019 after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's Amar Singh Rai resigned from his position to contest for the Lok Sabha elections.

Ever since 2019, the BJP has strengthened its control in Darjeeling by promising a political solution for the Gorkha issue. The saffron party also tried to gain the support of Scheduled Tribes by promising them a status.

The BJP, buoyed by its success in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, is also banking on the current Modi wave to return to power on the high profile seat of Darjeeling.

Meanwhile, Darjeeling is one of those rare seats where Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) is not contesting. Instead, the party is backing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to win this crucial seat.

What happened in the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal?

In 2016, Darjeeling had 2,28,010 electoral votes, out of which, 1,15,103 were female voters and 1,12,906 were male. The Assembly election witnessed 91.7 per cent voter turn out, while NOTA registered 2.5 per cent votes.

Amar Singh Rai of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha won the assembly elections by defeating TMC's Sarda Rai Subba by a huge margin of nearly 50,000 votes. Amar Singh had secured a total of 95,386 votes, while Sarda Rai got only 45,473 votes.

What about the 2021 assembly elections in West Bengal?

This year, West Bengal is witnessing a triangular contest between the TMC, BJP and the Left-Congress alliance. In Darjeeling, the contest is between BJP's Neeraj Zimba, GJM (Gurung) candidate Pemba Tshering, GJM Tamang's Keshav Raj Sharma and Left alliance's Gautam Raj Rai. The fate of the candidates will be announced on May 2.

Posted By: Niharika Sanjeeiv