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Gurung Delhi-bound

Darjeeling, Feb. 20: Bimal Gurung has decided to go to New Delhi in the first week of March and meet central ministers at a time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s relations with the state government are at an all-time low.

Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang today said: “We had sought appointments with various Union ministers and they will give us a time and date. It is 99 per cent confirmed that our party president would meet the leaders in the first week of March. During his stay in Delhi, he will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.”

Gurung’s Delhi trip comes amid signs of increasing bonhomie between the Congress and the Morcha.

Days after Gurung launched a vitriolic attack against Mamata Banerjee after her comments on the sensitive statehood issue on January 30, Darjeeling district Congress president (plains) Shankar Malakar met the Morcha chief and assured him of central help if he there were problems in running the GTA.

Gurung has several times criticised the state government’s “interference” in GTA matters.

“If the Morcha can strengthen ties with the Congress, it will get some breathing space. At the moment, the Trinamul government is breathing down its neck and there is no hope of a truce between Mamata and Gurung immediately,” said a source in the hills.

Gurung had earlier said he would announce future protests at a meeting in Sukna on March 10. But he later said the meeting had been postponed to March 31. “Gurung probably wants to meet the Congress leadership before making an announcement,” the source said.

Malakar had words of encouragement on Gurung’s trip. “As the Centre is also a party to the GTA agreement, it will definitely hear Morcha leaders in case they confront any problem while discharging their duties as GTA office holders. The Centre has always welcomed and heard Morcha leaders on several issues,” he said over phone from Delhi.