A million dollar question doing the rounds in the region presently is whether fugitive Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung will make a return to Darjeeling Hills.

Will Mr Gurung be able to make such a return soon after managing legal clearance “technically and legally” from the Calcutta High Court, is the question that has everyone making speculations.

Following Mr Gurung’s appearance in Kolkata recently after three years in hiding and yesterday’s meeting between the Binoy Tamang camp of the Morcha and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, people in the region have started discussions on the fate of Mr Gurung, who has several court cases pending against him.

“I really don’t know if it is possible for Bimal Gurung to return to the Hills before Diwali or in late November,” an observer of Hill politics said today.

“We have to wait and see if and how the state government will act to withdraw all police cases framed against Mr Gurung, so that he can return home a free man,” he added.

Another observer wondered if legal experts are discussing the matter with state officials and readying papers to be presented in court in favour of Mr Gurung. As such discussions and speculations go on, a close associate of Mr Gurung, on the other hand, said he would be receiving “positive information” about his leader in the second week of this month.

“Many things will unfold in the last week of November, which will help Gurung to make a legal return and be part of mainstream politics,” a reliable source claimed today.

Yet another source said there are possibilities of Mr Gurung’s return before Christmas. It may be noted here that the Tamang faction of the Morcha has claimed that Mr Gurung’s “chapter is closed” now.

While in an audio clip he circulated today, Mr Gurung said that he was in Kolkata, sources said that after reaching Kolkata from Delhi, police are keeping a close eye on him round the clock.

Also, while Mr Tamang claimed that the CM yesterday regarded him and another leader Anit Thapa as the guardians of the Hills, leaders in the Gurung camp have said that Miss Banerjee would find a solution so as to make a safe passage for Mr Gurung ahead of the Assembly elections due for next year.

Political observers also said that Miss Banerjee had been applying a ‘divide and rule’ policy here, and that she would “keep Bimal under her clutches to garner votes mainly in the Terai and the Dooars.”