As Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung finally returned to the Hills after over three years today, he said he will work with Trinamul Congress leader and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as per a give-and-take formula.

Addressing a huge gathering in his first public meeting in the Hills since 15 August 2017, and after a rousing welcome from supporters, Mr Gurung also said that he has talked to the state government about the formation of a body like a Development Council for the Terai and the Dooars too.

“We will easily win the three Assembly seats in the Hills and we want to win a maximum number of seats in north Bengal and make Mamata Banerjee the CM for the third time. After that, we have set a condition with her for a Permanent Political Solution (PPS) for the Hills, Terai and the Dooars,” Mr Gurung said.

“In the past, the hills got the DGHC and the GTA and other facilities, but the Terai and the Dooars got nothing till now. I have kept this point with them that they should be given a Development Council as part of the political solution,” he added.

He also said that he would win over the Bengal CM’s confidence through his work.

“We have set forth conditions with Miss Banerjee-PPS, Development Council for the Terai and Dooars, and withdrawal of all police cases against our party workers… We have also said that these two persons (Anit Thapa and Binoy Tamang) must go within the next 10-15 days,” he said.

“BJP leaders have started attacking a woman, Miss Banerjee; whatever our enmity, we should not stoop so low … we have told her she has to now give us something, while our duty will be to help you win the 2021 elections. We will fight with the Centre with you as the medium… I will give her something, and she should also give our community something, and I know she will,” he said.

Mr Gurung further claimed that he was the rightful leader of the GJMM, and that his name, along with his fellow leader Roshan Giri, was still registered with the Election Commission of India as the leaders of the Morcha.

Iterating that the BJP had done nothing for the people here and had betrayed them, he said they have to give the party a befitting reply in the upcoming state elections.

“We trusted the BJP blindly and helped them win three times in the general elections, along with the MLA and panchayat elections, but they did not give us even a nail. The Darjeeling MP has said that he would bring in Gorkhaland, but they did not even fulfill our tribal status demand. They might have thought that Bimal Gurung will not be able to return to the Hills, so they utilised us. This is why I changed our political course,” said Mr Gurung.

He also launched a scathing attack on the two leaders of the other faction of the Morcha, Anit Thapa and Binoy Tamang, and said, “I will not blame the TMC or Mamata Banerjee, but it was the two who sold off our community. In 2019, the person (Binoy Tamang) who ran the GTA lost in the votes with huge margins, while he was predicting to be a minister from the Hills, while their MP candidate Amar Rai also lost, even though they had funds in the GTA and Development Boards supporting them. They lost because people did not like the way they betrayed them. People will not vote for them in the coming days too as they have been engaged in a lot of corruption.” Mr Gurung, however, did not take names.

“During the three years that they ran the GTA there were given a fund to the tune of Rs 1700 crore, but only 30 percent of the work has been done by them. I request the government of Bengal not to keep such corrupt people,” said Mr Gurung, who also demanded an audit of the GTA.

Stating that his party believed in non-violence and did not want to disturb the peace, he claimed that the other camp of the Morcha had now been trying to create disturbances in the Hills. Referring to Mr Tamang, Mr Gurung also warned that a time should not come when he had to “show a red flag” and drive him out of the Hills. He was referring to a statement made by Mr Tamang recently that Mr Gurung could return to the Hills only after he “waved the green flag” for it.

He added that he will be staying in Darjeeling for 10- 12 days after which he would again tour areas under the Terai and the Dooars. He also said he would be visiting Kalimpong on 7 January.

Meanwhile, as he travelled to the Hills from Siliguri, Mr Gurung was accorded a grand welcome at different parts, starting from Sukna in the plains and right up to Darjeeling town, where hundreds of people greeted him.