The political cat and mouse game finally came to an end with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) top brass deciding to attend chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s programme at the Darjeeling Chowrasta on Tuesday.
A GJM delegation led by chief Bimal Gurung is also scheduled to meet Banerjee after the Chowrasta programme. The development comes as a major face saver for the chief minister.
With a renewed Gorkhaland agitation launched by the GJM in the wake of the Telangana developments, the GJM leaders had initially decided to remain away from the CM’s programme on the pretext of the ongoing agitational programmes in Delhi for Gorkhaland.
It would definitely have been difficult for Gurung and the GJM leaders to publicly associate with Banerjee, who is known as a strong antagonist of Gorkhaland, as that would have provided an opportunity for the Hill opposition parties to dub the Morcha agitation “a mere fiasco.”
On the other hand not wanting to antagonize Banerjee, the Morcha had opted for the middle path. They had earlier stated that as the Morcha top brass would be away in Delhi attending the ongoing dharna whosoever would be available from the Morcha camp would attend the CM’s programme.
However the Centre vying for more time to decide on the Telanaga issue has provided the Morcha with the required political space for a climb down. An emergency meeting of the GJM Central committee, sub divisional committees, town committees, Youth and Women’s wing, presided by Gurung at Jamuney, 15 km from Darjeeling town decided that top GJM leaders including Gurung would attend the CM’s function and also meet her after the programme.
“Mamata Banerjee is a guest for the Hills and as we have received invitations for the programme we along with party President Bimal Gurung have decided to attend Tuesday’s function. Only the leaders who are in Delhi including General Secretary Roshan Giri, 3 Hill MLAs, and some GTA members will not be able to attend. Whosoever is available in Darjeeling will attend. We have also asked the general public from different GTA constituencies to attend the programme. After the Chowrasta programme a GJM delegation led by Gurung will meet the CM” stated GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang.
Explaining this sudden political maneuver, Tamang added: “Earlier we had speculated that there will be postive nod to Telangana by January 27 hence the front rung leaders including Gurung would have to rush to Delhi. Now with the Centre asking for more time to decided on the Telangana issue, we have postponed our Delhi trip by a few days.”
However he was quick to add that the Delhi-centric agitation would continue and is independent of Telangana.
“Our dharna will continue till February 5 in Delhi. As of now we will not have a hunger strike. However much will depend on Delhi developments.” stated Tamang. The GJM leaders and supporters camping in Delhi will also meet leaders of both the UPA and the opposition with the Gorkhaland demand.
When confronted with the question on what would be the GJM’s stand if Banerjee reiterates her “United Bengal and No Division of Bengal” mantra, the GJM decided to remain sketchy. “She is coming to inaugurate various projects. Its for Development. This is not the forum for such political statements” stated Tamang.
The GJM also sidestepped questions on what would be discussed in their meeting with Banerjee. “It will just be courtesy visit” claimed Tamang. The GJM’s decision to continue with the political bonhomie with the GJM definitely comes as a major relief to the Banerjee camp.
CM Banerjee has always trumpeted her triumph in resolving the complex Gorkha issue with GJM by her side. She has also been accorded a warm welcome in the Hills during all her visits with the GJM forming a large chunk at all her Government programmes. GJM staying away from her programme would paint a very different picture.
As part of the ongoing Uttar Banga Utsav, Tuesday’s programme at the Darjeeling Chowrasta would also see the CM inaugurating a village eco-tourism project located at Lamahatta (from the Chowrasta.)