Bimal Gurung’s faction, GJM, targets former BJP ally at first mountain rally in Bengal
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) faction headed by Bimal Gurung held its first rally in the Darjeeling region on Sunday after three and a half years and targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a former Gurung ally.
The faction’s general secretary, Roshan Giri, and other speakers tried to explain at the well-attended rally why they severed ties with the BJP and joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) against which they had carried out a movement until 2017.
Although wanted by the state in connection with various criminal cases and charged under the anti-terrorism law, Gurung appeared in Kolkata on October 21 and offered an olive branch to Mamata Banerjee. He plans to head to a rally in Siliguri on December 6.
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Giri said that the BJP governments had assured the Gorkhas before three successive Lok Sabha elections that the political crisis in the hills would be resolved, but nothing was done. “They don’t really have the political will to find a permanent political solution. Why does the Center make three-way talks a prerequisite when it comes to the Gorkhas? The creation of Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand did not require tripartite talks, ”Giri said. The Gorkhas lost 15 years to the BJP, he added.
The BJP has won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha post since 2009 with the support of the GJM. The BJP promised to find a permanent political solution to the Gorkhaland problem and to grant programmed tribal status to 11 Gorkha sub-communities.
Giri said that people in the hills have to understand the circumstances under which the GJM joined the TMC.
The state government cracked down on the Gorkhaland movement in 2017 after Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa, the party’s two top leaders, became allies of the TMC. Another faction of the party floated while Gurung, the founding president, and his aides went into hiding to evade arrest.
Thousands of Gurung supporters, who had kept a low profile all these years, took to the streets on Sunday. Giri and the other speakers alleged that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) led by the Binoy Tamang faction of the GJM is involved in corruption.
GJM leaders Dipen Maley and Yogendra Rai claimed that there has been rampant corruption in the appointment of primary school teachers and that 70 percent of the development fund has been diverted. Giri demanded a special audit.
Anit Thapa, general secretary of GJM’s Binoy Tamang faction, is the chairman of the GTA board of trustees.
Keshav Raj Pokhrel, a spokesman for the Tamang faction, said: “Gurung and his men are a limited liability company that supports anyone to serve their vested interests.”