Agroup of Gorkha leaders in Darjeeling Hills, notably Bimal Gurung, Binoy Tamang and Ajoy Edwards, have started working to unite other leaders belonging to different platforms socially and politically, keeping in mind the longterm political solution when it comes to the issue of the Gorkha community’s identity.
The leaders have also decided to work out a common minimum programme for unity among the Gorkha people so that other leaders can also be involved in the platform they would create. The trio is also determined to continue efforts throughout the year 2023, beginning New Year’s Day today, so as to bargain with both the Trinamool Congress-led state government and the BJP-led central government, while keeping in mind the Parliament elections in 2024.
It may be mentioned here that the Hill people have supported the BJP by electing its party candidate to the Parliament in the last three terms. Significantly, leader of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha Bimal Gurung has admitted that he committed another blunder surrendering to the Trinamool Congress while returning to his hometown from his hideout.
After an agitation for Gorkhaland in 2017, Mr Gurung had to face police action and he had fled his home town after he was named in a murder case and branded as “traitor to the country.” He had taken shelter with the help of the BJP, but he finally left the saffron brigade having lost faith in its leadership on the issue of identity as well as ‘permanent political solution’ as promised by the BJP before the last Parliament polls in 2019.
Very interestingly, Mr Gurung yesterday pointed out the present scenario of Darjeeling Hills where, according to him, there was no democracy and no role of the opposition, but there was only corruption “in association with a group of contractors in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and even in the general administration.”
Mr Gurung also hinted that people belonging to the Scheduled Caste, under the banner of his party, will contest the forthcoming two-tier rural elections in the Hills with a view to ensuring the role of the Opposition in a democracy.
However, political observers, following significant political development in the Hills, after Binoy Tamang quit the Trinamool Congress and decided to do something for the Gorkha people independently, are speculating a new political equation in the Hills.
Speaking to this correspondent today, Binoy Tamang disclosed that there were several reasons behind his decision to quit the TMC, while he explained why he had decided to join the ruling party in the interest of the people in the Hills, the Terai and the Dooars, and how he was disappointed having failed to achieve his goals.
“Gorkha people residing in different parts of India and even abroad had extended support to the Gorkhaland movement in 2017, and I had led the movement. But I had to join hands with the TMC-led state government, keeping in mind peace in the Hills as the stir had crossed 104 days. Secondly, the BJP did not support us directly, though it kept watching the situation.
It was simply unfortunate for us, when BJP MP SS Ahluwalia did not visit Darjeeling that time. The BJP remained a silent spectator,” Mr Tamang said. “When the dream for Gorkhaland was not possible right away, I decided to join hands with the state just to ensure Parja Patta for the people in tea plantations, forest land and other places in this region so that they can get deed of rights of their land.
I talked to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, even Prashant Kishor, and other ministers on this issue. Though they agreed, but nothing has been implemented,” Mr Tamang said, citing an example, “The then CM Jyoti Basu had conceived the idea and it was executed during the tenure of CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to provide ‘one time’ land rights at Dabai Pani in Darjeeling.”
“Besides, CM Mamata Banerjee had echoed the demand for inclusion of our region in the Northeast Council, but later she did not show interest. I proposed her to form an All India Gorkhaland Assembly so that it can mount pressure on the central government on the issue of Indian Gorkhas, but no initiative was taken,” Mr Tamang said, adding, “As I noticed massive corruption and misappropriation of central government fund in various schemes, depriving the Hill people, the state was so reluctant.”
“As I joined hands with the state, not only the Hill people but also my family members criticized me. Despite the fact that I tried to do something in the interest of the people, I failed to do things for them. Finally, I decided to quit. I think it is high time to unite people before the Parliament polls in 2024,” he added.
On the other hand, Hamro Party president Ajoy Edwards said: “We are trying hard to unite the Gorkha people as well as leaders in a platform like ‘Gorkha Ekta Manch’. Though the name has not yet been finalized, we are working on it by involving other Gorkha leaders like Mann Ghising of the GNLF, RB Rai of the CPRM and others, even Saman Pathak from the CPIM, to continue our movement in terms of longterm political solution for this region, when there is only a year to go before we head for the Lok Sabha elections.
It is high time we knew the exact meaning of the BJP’s promise to execute a Permanent Political Solution.” “The GTA is nothing here. Being an elected member of the GTA, I see there is no status of a Sabhasad. Being a Sabhasad, I am in no position to serve the people,” Mr Edwards said, “We are in movement in 2023, but our movement will never turn violent.”
It may be noted here that GTA Chief Anit Thapa, in association with the state government, is at the helm in the Hills. According to political observers, Anit Thapa, who has proposed conducting twotier rural elections after two decades, will keep controlling the Hills in association with the ruling party of the state. Political observers believe Miss Banerjee will never give up Darjeeling, as she was the only political leader who, in association with Bimal Gurung, kept her commitment by allowing the word “Gorkhaland” to set up the GTA that replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).