The Bimal Gurung-faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), on Wednesday, quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and joined hands with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to contest the West Bengal Assembly Elections in 2021.
After a day of wide-ranging speculations in Kolkata, where he was seen travelling the length and breadth of the city throughout the day, Gurung officially declared his departure from the NDA at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Launching a scathing attack on the saffron camp, the 56-year-old said that Darjeeling did not get anything despite supporting BJP in the Parliamentary polls for the last 12 years.
Despite mentioning in their election mandate that a permanent solution to the Gorkhaland issue was an important agenda to them, BJP hasn’t done anything for the Gorkha people in Darjeeling, alleged Gurung.
Praising Mamata Banerjee for her efforts to bring peace in Darjeeling, the GJM supremo further stated that during their time with TMC, the West Bengal Chief Minister had at least listened to their issues and tried to get the Central Government on the same table.
What makes the dramatic development more shocking is that there has been no official communication made by the TMC camp regarding their latest ally. Reports in Bengali media suggests that Gurung is yet to hold any official meeting with anyone from the Bengal’s governing party.
Gurung, who had been on the run since 2017, was leading a part of the GJM which revolted against the state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Meanwhile, another faction of the same party, led by Binay Tamang, continued to remain an ally of the ruling TMC.
Founder of the GJM, Gurung, was elected as the first head of Darjeeling’s autonomous administrative body Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) when it was formed by Banerjee’s government.
However, his relationship with Bengal administration began to riffle when it did not pay any heed to GJM’s demand of creating a separate Gorkhaland state.
During a cabinet meeting on July 8, 2017, in Darjeeling, the GJM faction had attacked the state police and took to violence across the hills. The government had tried to control the issue with an iron fist, resulting in a political turmoil that led to a 104-day long curfew.
Gurung was charged with several sections under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act (UAPA) after he had eloped. A cat and mouse race to arrest the GJM leader had resulted in the killing of several police officers.
It was rumoured that he and other revolting GJM leaders, including general secretary Roshan Giri, were under the protection of senior BJP leaders. It had become apparent when Gurung and Giri were spotted in BJP President JP Nadda’s son’s wedding in March this year.
With the TMC-government running a makeshift GTA administration under the leadership of a not-so-popular Binay Tamang, it was all but expected that the BJP would sweep the elections in the Darjeeling region with the help of Gurung fraction.
But the cracks between BJP and Gurung-led GJM began to open up when the latter issued an open political attack against the right-wing Hindutva party in August this year.
On the run, the Gorkha camp accused that BJP was taking an advantage of their absence from mainstream politics. In an official statement, Giri claimed that when Yashvant Sinha and Surinder Singh Ahluwalia were the MP of Darjeeling BJP did not try to strengthen the organisation, but they were doing it now in the absence of Gurung and Giri.
That their adventure with BJP had approached the final stage was evident after that statement. Rightly so, it was also speculated that the revolting party will be siding with the ruling TMC again as it would provide them with the best chance to make a comeback into mainstream electoral politics.