The BJP, which is looking for new allies, has signaled support for separate Gorkhaland. Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung was among the guests at a dinner hosted for alliance partners by the party's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani on Wednesday night.
Gurung's entry into the BJP fold is seen as a snub to the Left government in West Bengal trying to work out an autonomy formula with the GJM.
The BJP is ready to back the Gorkhas in West Bengal's Dooar region, comprising Darjeeling district and parts of Jalpaiguri, for a separate state. It also means that the BJP is not too serious about parts outside the Darjeeling Hills, where parties are against any division of the state.
Though the party hasn't said it backs the cause of Gorkhaland, it has already come out in support of smaller states, the latest being Telengana.
Advani introduced Gurung to other NDA leaders including Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav and Indian National Lok Dal president Om Prakash Chautala. Member of Parliament Suresh Prabhu represented the Shiv Sena.
Last month, Gurung had met Advani, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and other senior leaders. The GJM had asked the BJP to back its cause and in return, offered its support for the Lok Sabha polls.
With Gurung showing up at the dinner, the BJP is hopeful of GJM support for its Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri candidates. Former IPS officer, Dawa Sherpa, is the party nominee from Darjeeling, while Dipen Pramanik has been fielded from Jalpaiguri.
Upbeat over the new-found friend, Advani dismissed as non-issue reports of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray refusing to meet him.