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Gurung to meet PC, Mamata

Gurung in Darjeeling on Sunday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo

Darjeeling, June 24: Bimal Gurung today said he would personally meet P. Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and Mamata Banerjee before taking the final call on contesting the GTA elections in what seems like a signal that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president wants more time to decide on the statehood agitation.

Gurung was expected to announce a series of protest meetings, but he did not. Instead he said: “Many of the speakers (party leaders) want to contest the elections. It is not necessary to take a resolution on this issue today.”

The chief said he would leave for New Delhi tomorrow “and will meet Union home minister P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee. I will try and seek an appointment with Mamata Banerjee”.

Gurung, who held a meeting with the Morcha central committee, the study forum and the party’s representatives from the Terai and Dooars, said he wanted to “personally” hear from the leaders about their thoughts on the three-member fact-finding committee that the state has formed to look into the Morcha’s demands to bring more territory under the GTA, besides the five mouzas included by the Justice Shyamal Sen committee. “I want to personally know whether this three-member committee… is merely an eyewash or a serious attempt to redress our grievances,” Gurung said.

The Delhi delegation would comprise Gurung, Morcha central committee members Ram Bhujel, P.T. Ola and Amar Singh Rai and Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma.

About the state government’s stand on holding the elections in July, Gurung said: “It is the state government’s call on whether to hold the elections or not. As a political party, it will be our decision whether to contest or not. We will take our stand after meeting the leaders and discussing it with our party’s central leadership.”

Gurung also said today that he had no problems if “those leaders wanting to contest the elections went ahead” as it was better “if they (Morcha leaders) are at the helm of affairs (in the GTA) instead of the leaders of the CPRM, AGBL or the Trinamul”. He did not clarify if these leaders would contest as Independents backed by the Morcha in case the party decided not to contest.

Gurung maintained that his party would always stand by its supporters in the plains. “I have always maintained that the Dooars and Terai are integral parts of the demand and we will never let them down. However, we have to be practical while taking decisions and working out the political strategies,” he said. Some observers read in this a hint that Gurung may seek more seats from the plains to the GTA. At present, five nominated seats are supposed to be given to the plains.