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Gurung’s U-turn: Has respect for Mamata, welcomes CM to Darjeeling

DARJEELING : Making a U-turn from the policy of confronting the West Bengal government, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung on Sunday said he had respect for her and that he did not want to go into a confrontation. He did not reveal what had transpired at his meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerejee in Kolkata on December 1. GJM’s relation with the chief minister has been on the down-side, after the former extended support to the BJP candidate in the last Lok Sabha election. Issues such as alleged interference by the state government in the function and powers of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) have only compounded matters. But on Sunday, addressing a large crowd of supporters at the Motor Stand area in Darjeeling, the GJM leader said: “I followed protocol and called on the CM when I was in Kolkata recently. She (Mamata Banerjee) is the CM and we must respect her and also welcome her in the hills”. He added, “I don’t want to fight with Banerjee nor use any slangs to achieve our demand for a separate state. 

In fact, we will even attend her programs if any in the hills. But, she must not hurt our feelings”. Gurung met the CM at Nabana on December 1 after offering puja at Kalighat but had told reporters when asked that it was a “courtesy” call with no political intent. Gurung, however, clarified that he was not softening his stand over the statehood demand. “The name Gorkhaland has been endorsed by the state government which was the most difficult thing when the GTA agreement was signed in 2011. It also has the consent on the President of the country. Because of this we will henceforth focus our concentration in Delhi to achieve our demand,” he said. To drive home his point, he said: “I am not the Bimal Gurung of the 1986 agitation and neither are we in that era. This is 2014 and I am a changed person along with time. We have to indulge in conscious politics and table talks, to achieve our demand”. The GJM president announced that more than 150 people from each constituency of the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling would participate in a dharna in Delhi in February. “I reiterate that the party has not shunned Gandhian principles nor do we believe in violence. I do not want to create disturbance in the hills which is why we will agitate in Delhi. We will organize dharnas in Delhi in February. 

We had postponed the three day Delhi dharna in November on the request of the union government and because of the ongoing parliament winter session,” said Gurung during the day, to justify the party’s decision adding he was willing to accept people’s anger as they had made prior arrangements for the dharna. Gurung also announced that the party had suspended Sanjay Thulung, a GTA sabhasad from Glenburn-Takdah because of his alleged link in the Assam arms haul case. “We are only hearing his (Thulung’s) name is linked to the Assam arms case through newspapers but we have not found any hard evidence yet. We have suspended Thulung only because an investigation is in progress,” he said. 

The GJM has formed a five member committee to independently investigate Thulung’s link in the Assam arms haul. Gurung made clear his displeasure with police raids in party supporters and leader’s houses. “We have no problem with police doing its work as we are always willing to cooperate. But, they must not raid houses at night without wearing uniform or warrant and indulge in vandalism. If anything untoward happens than I am not to be held responsible,” he warned and requested the Darjeeling police to ensure peace in the hills was not disturbed. Since Thulung’s name was linked to the Assam arms haul, police are conducting daily raids in houses suspected to be housing him. On Friday, police arrested a GJM youth leader from Darjeeling citing he had several pending warrants. 

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