Kurseong is fast emerging into a political hotbed.
While Gorkha National Liberation Front ( GNLF) supremo Subash Ghising toured Kurseong and the adjacent areas on Saturday; the Trinamool held a rally and public meeting in Kurseong on Sunday; Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung is scheduled to address the masses in Kurseong on Monday on the occasion of GJM’s foundation day.
Ghisingh and the GNLF had been ousted from the Hills by the GJM in early 2008. However, with the political unrest that has gripped the Hills, the GNLF is making a steady comeback. Ghisingh, who at present resides at Matigarah near Siliguri visited Sukna, Tindharia, Kurseong and Rohini on Saturday. He has plans to return to Darjeeling town after Dusserah.
Not to be left behind, the Trinamool too is making political inroads in the Hills. Braving the steady downpour a Trinamool rally was held in Kurseong town on Sunday. Trinamool heavyweights including party general secretary Mukul Roy and North Bengal development minister Goutam Deb addressed the rally along with Trinamool Hill leaders.
Causing a dent in the GJM armour supporters and leaders of the Janmukti Asthahi Kar machari Sangathan (JAKS, ad hoc employees association affiliated to the GJM) switched over to the West Bengal Government Employees’ Federation affiliated to the INTTUC of the Trinamool.
Dilip Singh, former general secretary of the Kurseong unit of JAKS, said, “The ad hoc workers have been exploited by the both the GNLF and the GJM. While we have been used in various political programmes by the GNLF during the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), the same continues under the GJM in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). Yet these political parties have not taken any measures to ensure that we get permanent jobs. It has always been empty promises. The Trinamool is the best option for us.” “We are constantly pressurising the state government so that ad hoc workers of the GTA are provided permanent jobs. The state government has instructed the principal secretary of the GTA to find out ways and means to absorb the ad hoc workers. Already chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered that 3,500 ad hoc teachers under the GTA be absorbed into permanent posts,” said Roy.
The Trinamool claimed that around 800 GJM supporters including supporters and leaders of JAKS have crossed over to the TMC. Roy reiterated that the chief minister is sincere about the all-round development of the Hills through GTA.
“It is clear that the Hills want development and peace. This can be achieved through the GTA. Earlier Darjeeling was an education hub with students from all around the world coming to Darjeeling. However, the recent political upheaval has tarnished the image of Darjeeling as an education hub. The state government will not tolerate this. We will ensure that the lost glory of Darjeeling is reinstated and students continue with their education safely in Darjeeling,” said Roy.
TMC Hills leaders alleged of widespread corruption and nepotism in the GJM-run GTA. Continuing with plans of expansion, TMC spokesperson Binny Sharma said, “We will hold a massive rally and public meeting in Darjeeling town on October 23. Trinamool leaders from Kolkata will also be present.”
Interestingly on the same day a tripartite talk is slated to be held between the Centre, state and GJM. Trinamool president Mamata Banerjee is also scheduled to attend a party convention in the Hills in November.
Meanwhile, GJM president Gurung is scheduled to address a GJM rally in Kurseong on Monday on the occasion of the GJM’s foundation day. The GJM party was floated by Gurung on October 7, 2007.
Political observers are reading this move as a damage control mechanism to ensure that their support base remains intact and to prevent further drifts.