A move to shift protesting and ailing Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung to a hospital in the neighbouring state of Sikkim from the Darjeeling district hospital today left many in the region surprised.
The move also fuelled speculations that the Morcha leader, who remained underground for some years after the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation and who returned to his hometown after shaking hands with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, may be cozying up to the BJP once again.
Mr Gurung-led GJMM was an ally of the BJP before he joined hands with the CM and returned home. “What has fuelled such speculations is the political churnings in the Hills, with BJP leader and Darjeeling MP Raju Bista meeting Gurung and supporting his cause.
The MP also held a long meeting with other Morcha leaders like Roshan Giri and Lobsang Tamang in Darjeeling,” an observer said today.
After his plea to the CM to defer elections to the Gorkhaland Terrritorial administration (GTA) went unheard, Mr Gurung went on a hunger strike on 24 May.
His health deteriorated in a couple of days, while he was taken to the Darjeeling hospital last night.
Morcha leaders said the hunger strike was lifted purely on medical grounds, as Mr Gurung’s health was critical. He was today taken to Gangtok in Sikkim where he was admitted in the STNM Hospital.
The Morcha has demanded that the state government “fully” implement the GTA Memorandum of Agreement before the elections are held. Speaking to a private television channel, MP Raju Bista, however, said today that the GJMM had not yet rejoined hands with the BJP.
“We are against the GTA polls. We wouldn’t take part in the polls. But I can hint that Gorkha Premees (lovers), who always think of the betterment of the Gorkhas are united,” Mr Bista said.
Asked to comment on the shifting of Mr Gurung from Darjeeling to Sikkim, Mr Bista told this correspondent that he was not surprised at the decision.
“I am not surprised that Bimal Gurung had to be taken to Sikkim for hospitalization. The healthcare facility in our region is abysmal and it is deteriorating every day under Mamata misrule,” Mr Bista said.
“India is still a democratic country and people have the freedom to choose the hospital they want to get treated in,” Mr Bista said, adding, “However, the fact that Darjeeling district hospital does not even have a CT Scan machine till date is telling of the abysmal health care deprivation faced by North Bengal, especially the Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars region.
There is a huge shortage of medical doctors, nurses, medical infrastructure in entire North Bengal region. People are forced to travel to other states or distant cities for their treatment.”