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If I don’t fight for Gorkhaland, hill people will not spare me: Bimal Gurung

GJM chief Bimal Gurung has briefed Union home minister Rajnath Singh and defence minister Arun Jaitley about the situation in Darjeeling.

kolkata Updated: Jun 09, 2017 23:56 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
GJM,Bimal Gurung,BJP
File picture of GJM president Bimal Gurung. After Thursday’s violence he has decided to push for Gorkhaland with renewed vigour.(Samir Jana)

President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Bimal Gurung, has never been under so much pressure as he has been since Thursday evening. He is up against the full might of the state government with the chief minister accusing him of wanton violence. Recently, he also witnessed Trinamool Congress posting its first victory in the Darjeeling hills in Mirik municipality. He has been pilloried by the opposition parties for his alleged love for power and for compromising with the demand of a separate state. On Friday, Gurung spoke to HT.

Q. GJM seems to be on the backfoot after Thursday’s violence during which your supporters set fire to police vehicles and a government bus. What do you have to say?

A. GJM is not responsible for the violence. The trouble was triggered by some Trinamool Congress supporters, who first threw stones at the peaceful GJM workers. GJM was formed to fight for a separate state of Gorkhaland, and I will rest only after our dream comes true. The hill people have understood the policies of the state government and they want separation from West Bengal. The state government only wants to divide the hill people.

GJM supporters at Darjeeling rail station on October 3, 2015. (Samir Jana)

Q. At a public meeting in Mirik on June 5 the chief minister said that learning Bengali will be optional in the hills. Why did you still continue your agitation?

A. Though she said so, we are still confused, and are not convinced. But if she indeed meant what she said, she could have easily taken a cabinet resolution to that effect, which we demanded.

Q. The state government has already started special audit into the functioning of the GTA. Are you prepared for the eventualities?

A. I welcome the audit. We did not indulge in any financial misconduct. The state government should introspect and think about the Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley cases.

Locals distributing food to tourists in Darjeeling on Friday morning. (Bikram Sashanker)

Q. State ministers have alleged that GTA is mired in corruption?

A. They have been saying so without any basis. Actually, it is the state government that has constantly interfered into the functioning of the GTA that was formed through a tripartite agreement. Forming as many as 15 development boards and not transferring the departments, as per the GTA Accord, to the body are some of examples of how the state created roadblocks.

Q. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has squarely blamed your party for Thursday’s trouble. She has indicated stern action against those indulging in vandalism. How would you escape?

A. It is the chief minister who is actually fomenting trouble. Every time she comes to the hills she creates problems. We have been restrained all along.

A soldier stands guard on a Darjeeling street on Friday. During the day the armed forces dispatched four more columns to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. (Bikram Sashanker)

Q. GTA’s tenure is coming to an end and the chief minister indicated that elections would be held soon. Are you prepared?

A. The election is a non issue. GJM is for creation of Gorkhaland and we are concerned about our ultimate goal. I am not attaching much importance to the election. We might resign from GTA anytime.

Q. Does this mean you are not going to contest the GTA election?

A. Bimal Gurung was born to fight for Gorkhaland and I will not ditch my people by compromising with something else. If I do not spearhead the movement for Gorkhaland, the hill people will not spare me. I have been reiterating that GTA is a temporary shelter for the GJM. We always tried our best to run the GTA in true spirit while working for our ultimate goal.

Q. Have you discussed the situation in the hills with leaders of the BJP that is an ally of GJM?

A. I have already briefed the Union home minister and defense minister about the situation here.

Q. Senior BJP leaders have not committed themselves to the cause of Gorkhaland. If the BJP does not back you, what will you do?

A. It is a hypothetical question. The time for that question has not arrived yet.

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 20:48 IST