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After 8 months, Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia to visit constituency to inaugurate the PSLK

Siliguri: The Darjeeling MP from the BJP, S.S. Ahluwalia, will visit his constituency on next Sunday after a gap of almost eight months. Ahluwalia, who is also the Union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation, will be here to inaugurate the Passport Seva Laghu Kendra (PSLK) that has come up at Himanchal Bihar, located in Matigara.

"The Union minister of state will inaugurate PSLK on February 17. It was a longstanding demand of the residents here in Siliguri and in surrounding areas. The centre will start functioning with immediate effect," said an official.

The visit, however, has led to speculations in political circles, particularly because the MP had stayed away from his constituency for a long time and did not visited the hills during the 104-day long agitation and strike over the demand of statehood.

"In New Delhi, he was instrumental in arranging some meetings between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's delegations and the Union home minister and some other important people in the central government. But his absence from the hills left residents disgruntled and turned many of them against the BJP during and after the agitation," said an observer.

Now that he will be here for an official programme, political analysts are curious to know how he and his party BJP intend to take up the task of damage control.

"That the support for the BJP has fast faded in the hills was evident in October last year when a delegation of Bengal leaders, headed by party's state president Dilip Ghosh, was heckled and even assaulted by a group of local youths," the observer added.

In the past two Parliament polls, the BJP has managed to win the Darjeeling seat with the support of the Morcha.

"But in past few months, the tables have turned. There is no cognizable presence of the Bimal Gurung lobby and the Binay Tamang lobby, that has been running the GTA, is working in close consonance with the state. Unless the Centre comes up with a major decision on the demand for statehood, it is a tough job for BJP to win back support of the hill residents," said a senior political leader based in hills.

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