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May Day meet to prove count

Darjeeling, April 19: The CPRM, considered the second largest party in the hills, has decided to organise a public meeting on May Day in a move seen as an attempt to make its presence felt in the hills.

D.S. Bomzom, the spokesperson for the CPRM, however, said: “We have decided to organise a public meeting on May Day in Darjeeling, this is a normal political activity of the party.”

However, since May 1 was last observed by the CPRM in Kalimpong in 2007 — before the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was formed — many believe this year’s programme is meant to make people aware of the party’s presence as well as support base in the hills.

Asked about the CPRM’s failure to organise a major programme in the past two years, Bomzom said: “Sometimes the central committee of the party organises the show while at other times it is the regional committees or the village units. Last year, it was the regional committees that had organised the function (and therefore low-key) and this year the party’s central committee has decided to hold the show.”

The CPRM meet is likely to be followed keenly because despite having a sizeable support base, of late the party has not actively voiced its opinion on the Morcha’s statehood movement.

Although other outfits like the ABGL and to some extent, the GNLF (C), have been decrying the Morcha agitation, they have not yet been able to show their support base in public meetings.

But the CPRM and the Morcha have had their fair share of bickering in the past. The Morcha had at times come down heavily on CPRM general secretary R.B. Rai, alleging that the communists were responsible for the death of the hill people during the 1986 Gorkhaland agitation. Most of the CPRM leaders were with the CPM in 1986 and it was only in 1997 that the CPRM was formed.

Also, the Morcha had opposed the 12-hour strike called by the CPRM on August 22, 2008, to demand a speedy trial of Chattrey Subba, who has been accused of masterminding the attack on GNLF president Subash Ghisingh on February 10, 2001. Even though the Morcha opposed the strike, it, too, had been demanding a speedy trial of Subba.

“It is not true that we have not been holding political activities. Apart from the strike that was opposed by the Morcha, we had held rallies and dharnas in Calcutta and Delhi,” said Bomzom.

Observers, however, believe that there is a marked difference in organising rallies in Darjeeling and outside the hill town (like the one in Kalimpong in 2007). Effectively, the May Day rally will be the first major political activity of the CPRM after the Morcha was formed.

“All our supporters are expected to attend the meeting,” said Bomzom.

It is largely believed that the CPRM will not openly confront the Morcha on May 1 but will send a subtle message that if there is any opposition in the hills right now, it is the CPRM.

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