Siliguri/Jalpaiguri, May 7: The Terai-Dooars units of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha have sent a report to the central committee of the party on the dismal performance of adivasi leader John Barla in garnering tribal support for the movement to include the plains in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
Morcha spokesperson and Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri said it was high time for Barla to prove his support base in the plains.
The Joint Action Co-ordination Committee — a conglomerate of the Morcha, the Barla faction of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and like-minded outfits — had launched relay hunger strikes in the plains to protest the administration’s denial of permission to hold a rally at Nagrakata on April 22.
Although the fasts had been launched on May 3, the programme was abandoned because of the low turnout. The fasts were supposed to be held across the Dooars and Terai for the entire month of May.
“The adivasi leaders had told us that they would gather adequate number of people from their side for the hunger strikes. But hardly any supporter of Barla was present at the locations where we launched the fasts on May 3. We have sent the necessary feedback to the central committee of the Morcha,” said Santosh Rai, a central committee member from the Dooars.
Madhukar Thapa, another central committee member from the Dooars, said Morcha supporters were now having serious doubts about the claims made by Barla.
“We do not know why the tribal leader could not make his presence felt in the relay hunger strikes. Morcha supporters were far greater in number than the adivasis at the venues of the fasts. Such a performance has left serious doubts in our mind and we have informed our top leadership accordingly,” Thapa said without naming Barla.
But Harka Bahadur Chhetri was more forthcoming on Barla’s role vis-a-vis the agitation for the inclusion of the plains in the GTA. “Barla must prove his support base in the Terai and Dooars by making the agitation a success. We are not in a position to say whether Barla or the Parishad enjoy the support of the bulk of the tribal population; it is entirely up to him to prove it.”
He said the Morcha was still banking on Barla. “We are organising a movement jointly and active participation of people is the key to success.”
Barla did not take calls on his mobile phone.