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Old & new in rebel Gorkha outfit

Darjeeling, Oct. 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced the formation of its labour and youth wings.

The names of the office-bearers of the central committee of the Morcha — the new outfit floated by former GNLF leader Bimal Gurung — have also been declared.

The list includes a few old— former GNLF members — and many new names. Earlier, Gurung had said he wants new faces to join his movement for a separate state.

Gurung was expelled from Subash Ghisingh’s party last week, shortly after he announced that the hills should accept nothing short of Gorkhaland. The announcement followed close on the heels of the Union cabinet’s approval of the Sixth Schedule status for the Darjeeling hills, a GNLF trump card. Gurung was sacked for “anti-party” activities.

While Gurung is the president of the new party, the selection of K.S. Ramudamu as vice-president and Roshan Giri as general secretary has come as a big surprise. Ramudamu is the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Anushuti Jati Sangh — an association of Scheduled Castes — and his new role suggests that the majority of the 9.7 per cent of SC population from the hills will support the Morcha. The Scheduled Castes in the hills are an unhappy lot, as they will not enjoy any reservation in the new council to be formed under the Sixth Schedule.

Even Giri’s decision to be an office-bearer of the Morcha is an indication that the All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu) — the apolitical students’ union of which he is the president — is supporting Gurung. Agsu will hold a meeting soon to discuss its status as people with political affiliation cannot be members of the organisation.

Raju Pradhan is the other general secretary of the party while representatives selected from Tindharia, Kalimpong and Kurseong have found place as executive members in the Morcha’s central committee.

Alokmani Kant Thulung, the former president of the GNLF affiliated Gorkha National Students’ Front (Darjeeling branch), has been made the president of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha — the youth organisation.

P.T. Sherpa, former assistant secretary of the GNLF affiliated Himalayan Plantation Labour Union, has also joined Gurung’s team. He has been made the convener of the workers’ front, the Darjeeling Hill Plantation Labour Union.

“Though we have not been able to visit all the places, people cutting across political lines are coming to us and forming units in their respective areas,” said Binay Tamang, the Morcha’s press and publicity secretary.

He claimed that 30 families from Lower Singtam in Darjeeling have decided to join the the Morcha. “Santosh Gurung has been made the president of the unit there.” Similar units have also been formed in the Maneybhanjyan-Sukhiapokhri-Simana area.

“Within a couple of days we will form unions for employers, teachers, women and students,” said Tamang.

Gurung is keen to extend his party’s base in Kalimpong. “We held our first meeting in Darjeeling and given Kalimpong’s importance in our scheme of things, we want to stage our next public meeting there,” Gurung said.

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