All eyes are trained on the all-party meeting called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling on Monday.
The question doing the rounds is whether the pro-Gorkhaland forces will be able to unite to add more muscle to the demand.
The spate of arrests continued on the 9th day of the indefinite bandh with Pranay Thapa, GTA member of the Ambootia-Pankhabari area of Kurseong along with Laxman Rai, GJM Central Committee member arrested from Kurseong on Sunday evening. On Sunday morning GJM youth leader Shekhar Sharma was arrested from Kalimpong.
At around noon GJM Kurseong sub divisional committee members Sumit Dip Rai and Sonam Lama along with youth leaders Abisekh and Lawan Gurung were arrested from Garidhura in the Kurseong sub division. At 11 pm on Sunday, GJM leader Sachin Tamang from Mirik was arrested.
“He was wanted in eight cases,” said Kunal Agarwal, Darjeeling SP.
In the past also there have been attempts to unite the proGorkhaland forces but were of not much success. Gurung after floating the GJM on October 7, 2007 had given a similar call. However, differences cropped up with Gurung asking supporters of other parties to continue with the demand under the GJM banner.
This time, however, Gurung has adopted a more acceptable stand asking parties to join him under their own banners.
This stand has already borne fruit with the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM) cadres coming out in open support of the GJM. They had even joined a GJM demonstration for Gorkhaland at the Chowk Bazar recently for Gorkhaland.
“We have called all political outfits of the Hills, including the Congress, BJP, CPI(M), Trinamool, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), CPRM, All India Gorkha League (AIGL) and the Gorkhaland Task Force for Monday’s meeting,” said Raju Pradhan, assistant general secretary, GJM.
North Bengal Development Minister Goutam Deb, however, claimed that the TMC has not received any letter from GJM. “Even we had received it. The question of attending the meeting does not arise until and unless they withdraw their agitation,” added Deb.
KB Wattar, CPI(M) district secretariat member in the Hills, said, “We have not received any formal letter from the GJM leaders. Nor any of their leaders have called us with requests to attend the meeting,” he said.
The CPRM has already pledged support but with a rider.
They have demanded that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA- an autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling Hills) be scrapped and the GJM wholeheartedly walk the agitation path for Gorkhaland.