Losing ground to Trinamool, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha raises Gorkhaland issue before Modi, NDA partners
The demand for separate state of Gorkhaland comprising parts of Bengal’s Darjeeling district resurfaced at the national echelon when Bimal Gurung, president of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), appealed to all the 33 National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners to support the cause.kolkata Updated: Apr 14, 2017 09:49 IST
The demand for separate state of Gorkhaland comprising parts of Bengal’s Darjeeling district resurfaced at the national echelon when Bimal Gurung, president of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), appealed to all the 33 National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners to support the cause. The meeting was held on Monday evening in Delhi.
The NDA meet in New Delhi was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union ministers Arun jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, Andra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackrey and others.
In the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the GJM, which commanded a massive base in the Darjeeling hills, supported the BJP and helped Jaswant Singh and S S Ahluwalia win the Darjeeling seat. In both elections, the BJP promised in its poll manifesto that it would look into the long-pending demands and aspirations of the people of North Bengal, including the Gorkhas.
Binay Tamang, assistant secretary of the GJM told Hindustan Times from Delhi that Gurung raised the Gorkhaland issue in his seven-minute speech. “Gurung raised several issues. These included Gorkhaland, the demand for schedule tribe status to 11 Gorkha communities and a central university in the Darjeeling hills,” said Tamang.
“Gurung said that GJM is a committed partner of the NDA and wants to see the promises made in the BJP election manifesto fulfilled. Gurung also appealed to NDA partners to support the cause of Gorkhaland,” said Tamang.
The hill region has so far witnessed two aggressive political movements for creation of Gorkhaland. The movement from 1986 to 1988 was led by Gorkha National Liberation Front and it witnessed the death of 1200 people in violent clashes. The second - between 2007 and 2011 - was led by the GJM.
The GJM is likely to face tough challenge from Trinamool Congress in the municipal elections which are likely to be held on May 14. The GJM has already lost considerable ground ever since chief minister Mamata Banerjee created 15 development boards for different hill communities and carried out development projects despite opposition from the GJM-run Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
An autonomous body, the GTA was formed in 2012 through a tri-partite agreement between the Centre, the Bengal government and GJM after a long movement by the Gorkhas.
The GJM however alleged that the state government violated the GTA agreement by interfering in the functioning of the autonomous body. Also, the creation of a separate Kalimpong district out of the Darjeeling hills and formation of Jan Andolan Party (JAP) - which is close to the Trinamool Congress - have substantially weakened the GJM.
Local politicians feel that unless the GJM gets assurance from the Centre that at least schedule tribe status will be granted to 11 hill communities, the going will be tough for GJM in the elections to four hill municipal bodies which will be followed by panchayat and GTA polls.
Interestingly, the BJP state leadership is against the creation of Gorkhaland and the Centre has not yet responded to GJM’s demand.
Harka Bhadur Chetti, the JAP president and former GJM MLA said: “GJM leaders, including Bimal Gurung, are good at telling lies. It is impossible to believe that Gurung raised the Gorkhaland issue at the NDA meeting attended by leaders of 33 parties because in the past he could not raise the issue before the Prime Minister.”
Tamang however claimed that it was great moment for the Gorkhas because never before had the issue been raised at a national forum of such significance.