Today in New Delhi, India
Nov 21, 2018-Wednesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Push for Gorkhaland: Bimal Gurung says he is ready for collective leadership

On Thursday tension may rise in the hills as the GJM youth wing is supposed to bring out a rally. It has threatened total shutdown for indefinite period if police try to foil the agitation.

kolkata Updated: Jun 16, 2017 07:24 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
GJM,GNLF,Bimal Gurung
File picture of an agitation programme by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha youth wing members at Darjeeling rail station in 2015. (Samir Jana)

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung has said he is ready to consider the issues of joint leadership for the struggle to realise Gorkhaland but advised parties like Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) to hit the streets immediately.

“I am ready to seriously consider the GNLF and other parties’ suggestion of a joint leadership to the movement as well as other suggestions such as walking out of the GTA. But the leaders of other parties including the GNLF should immediately come out and hit the streets as I am doing now,” Gurung told HT.

Read: Darjeeling crisis deepens: Hill parties unite to demand Gorkhaland

On Wednesday, Gurung claimed that 85 families have returned to the Morcha fold from Trinamool camp. “On Monday, 42 families came back to our fold, followed by 85 today. Soon we will have a largely Trinamool free Darjeeling,” remarked Gurung, who had to witness Mamata Banerjee’s party post their first electoral victory in the hills in May in Mirik municipality. Gurung claimed Takvar, his own constituency in GTA, has already become a ‘Trinamool free’ zone.

The Bengal chief minister has vowed not to allow a division of the state. She has made it clear that there will be no compromise with GJM leaders who has resorted to violence. (HT Correspondent)

On Thursday, tension may rise in the hills as Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM) has decided to organise a rally. If the police want to resist, GJYM threatened to call an indefinite total bandh. According to adviser of GJYM, Jiten Rai, the rally is to protest against ‘police atrocities’ and demand immediate release of those arrested since June 8, when violence broke out leading to the deployment of army.

Gurung also sounded a veiled alarm bell for the tourists. “How can tourists enjoy when the police are regularly resorting to unprovoked lathi charge on our supporters. No matter how many police and para-military personnel are deployed, the movement for Gorkhaland cannot be stopped. The police super and Darjeeling DM are working like TMC cadres,” Gurung alleged.

Read: Darjeeling stir: Mamata is playing with fire by ignoring the Gorkha identity issue

On Tuesday Gurung got a shot in the arm after five parties and an apolitical pan-India Gorkha body turned up at the all-party meeting he called in Darjeeling and unanimously vowed to fight for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The development is a direct challenge to chief minister Mamata Banerjee who has resolved not to allow a division of Bengal.

A soldier standing guard in Darjeeling. On Wednesday GJM president Bimal Gurung indirectly asked the tourists to leave. (HT Photo)

The unity of hill parties largely depends on how long GJM and GNLF, the alliance partner of Trinamool Congress for the civic elections, could work together.

GNLF has put forward five conditions to the GJM to accept before they could work together for Gorkhaland. GNLF that spearheaded the 28-month-long violent movement for separation from Bengal from 1986 to 1988 has asked the GJM to unilaterally withdraw itself from the tripartite GTA Accord signed on July 18, 2011.

“The GTA is a stumbling block to Gorkhaland. GJM’s unilateral withdrawal from the GTA Accord is a pre-requisite before we could join the hands with the GJM for a prolonged movement,” GNLF spokesperson Niraj Zimba told HT. He also hinted that unless GJM walks out of the GTA Accord, GNLF will not be a part of the movement.

Read: Mamata govt steps up pressure on Bimal Gurung after Darjeeling clashes

GNLF also wants that all the three GJM MLAs should resign from the Bengal assembly, and all municipal councillors of the Morcha should resign too.

Bimal Gurung has to take the crucial decision on whether to withdraw from the GTA Accord. GNLF has said that GJM’s councillors elected in the last month’s civic polls and three MLAs who won the Assembly elections in 2016 have to resign. (Samir Jana)

Zimba said, “GNLF has no problem in accepting Gurung as the leader of the joint movement provided he accepts our five conditions.”

Incidentally, Bimal Gurung has said frequently that they will resign from GTA as “the state government did not allow the GTA to function in true spirit of GTA Accord.”

In 2013 there was an attempt to work out a collective movement to spearhead the movement for Gorkhaland. But the exercise did not take off as Gurung allegedly failed to agree on ‘common minimum programme’ suggested by other parties.

Read: Darjeeling’s British legacy: A journey in time

Rajen Mukhia, Trinamool leader in the hills alleged that GJM supporters are threatening TMC supporters. On Gurung’s claim that Takvar area has become TMC free, Mukhia reamrked, “Those who joined GJM from TMC did so because they were threatened by Gurung and his men.”

For increased monitoring of GTA, the state government on Wednesday created a new post of executive director appointed Deepap Priya, an IAS who is also known to be close to the chief minister. C Murugan was appointed as the GTA’s full- time secretary.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 18:39 IST