Darjeeling, Aug. 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced a relaxation of its indefinite strike from August 16 to 18 and said it would choose a successor to Bimal Gurung in the GTA Sabha, the twin moves aimed at blunting the state government’s attempts to corner the party.
In the morning, Gurung chaired an all-party meeting at which seven hill outfits endorsed the August 13-14 janata curfew he had announced on Saturday in response to Mamata Banerjee’s 72-hour deadline to end the strike.
August 15 remains a bandh-free day.
“Eight parties present at the meeting today in the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club have adopted a resolution that the Gorkhaland agitation will be carried forward under one platform and everyone will have one common programme,” Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said.
The coming together of the parties means the government would have to broaden its crackdown on hill leaders, a source said. So far, only Morcha leaders have been arrested.
If on August 16 the Morcha members pick Gurung’s successor in the GTA, the party will be able to counter the state government’s plan to name its own choice to the post.
The issue of the GTA Sabha was discussed in today’s meeting, which suggested that all big decisions on the statehood agitation would now be taken by consensus by the eight hill outfits.
The meeting, called by the Morcha, was attended by the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM), Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, the hill Congress, BJP, Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha and the apolitical outfits, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisang and the Gorkhaland Task Force.
The GNLF, Trinamul and the CPM stayed away.
Chhetri said that when the GTA issue was discussed today, “all the parties agreed that the body must be rejected butů at an appropriate time”.
Bhupendra Pradhan, chairman of the Sabha, said: “As the chairman of the GTA Sabha, I will ask the principal secretary to convene a meeting of the Sabha at 1pm on August 16. The meeting will be held to elect the next chief executive of the GTA.”
The name of Birkhu Bhusal, 86, a nominated Morcha member, is doing the rounds.
The Morcha later went into a huddle with its GTA Sabha members, MLAs and central committee members. Afterwards, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri announced the three-day strike relaxation looking “into the concerns of our people”.
He said an all-party meeting would also be held on August 16 “when the future course of agitation after August 18 will be discussed”.
The chief minister had written to the deputy chief executive of the GTA Sabha giving him three days’ notice to elect a new chief executive. That deadline expired today.