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Morcha crowd thin

Darjeeling, Oct. 7: Hardly 100 people today turned up at the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s sixth foundation day celebration, where the party called upon supporters to be ready for an agitation if the Centre takes a positive step towards the formation of Telangana.

The event in Darjeeling witnessed the thinnest crowd the Morcha has mustered in recent times, probably because party chief Bimal Gurung was absent. The reason for the party chief’s absence is believed to be personal — Gurung’s father’s last rites were completed only yesterday.

Observers believe Morcha members didn’t attend the foundation day celebration as most of them were busy with the last rites of Gurung’s father at his residence till late last evening. “Another reason for the Morcha supporters’ disinterest in the party event might be Gurung’s absence,” said an observer.

According to customs in the Nepali community, family members of a deceased person have to perform the last rites on the 13th day after death. They feed all the people who attend the ceremony, and the guests contribute some money towards the family. Three separate pandals were erected at Gurung’s house to feed the visitors yesterday.

Asked about the thin crowd, Ishamani Pakhrin, the president of the Morcha’s Darjeeling town committee, expressed his annoyance. “If this is the attitude of workers towards party functions, then I think the hands of leaders will start shaking (they will be hesitant) when they are asked to make any recommendation by the supporters.”

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri was the main speaker at the foundation day celebration at Chowrastha.

“We are closely monitoring the developments regarding Telangana. We appeal to our supporters to be ready to start an agitation in case the Centre takes any positive step towards the formation of Telangana. The agitation will be organised not only in the hills but also in the Dooars and Terai.”

In his address, Giri didn’t comment on the low turnout.

The CPRM, one of the principal anti-Morcha parties in the hills, has already resumed the movement for Gorkhaland following the renewal of the Telangana agitation. In the wake of the opposition’s movement, it was expected that the Morcha couldn’t lie low for long.

Giri said unlike the GNLF, which had agreed to drop the statehood demand while accepting the DGHC in 1988, the Morcha hadn’t given up the call for Gorkhaland in lieu of the GTA.

“It is clearly mentioned in the agreement that we have not dropped the demand for Gorkhaland. That is why we have been telling the people that the GTA is a major achievement for us. We are free to carry on with the statehood agitation,” said Giri.