The turnout at a joint rally by the Morcha and the CPRM at the Motor Stand in Darjeeling on Friday. (Suman Tamang)
Darjeeling, Aug. 23: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has started preparing a back-up line to lead the statehood agitation if the government presses ahead with the crackdown on the top rung.
Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today held a meeting with party leaders at Malidhura, 5km from Darjeeling. Although the Morcha leadership did not disclose what transpired at the meeting, sources said Gurung urged the leaders of various units of the party to be prepared to take up greater responsibilities.
“The essence of our party president’s speech was to boost the morale of the unit leaders and prepare them to take up greater leadership roles as the Morcha believes that the state government will carry on with the arrests (of people connected to the agitation),” said a leader who attended the meeting.
So far, 10 elected GTA Sabha members, including Binay Tamang, have been arrested. Police today arrested three Morcha activists for allegedly planning and executing an attack on a police camp at Pokhriabong on August 2.
Going by Gurung’s speech, the Morcha is not expected to immediately withdraw the ongoing ghar bahira janata (people step out of homes) campaign, a source said.
“The party president made it clear that the other leaders should not just look to the elected GTA Sabha members to mobilise the public. In the urban areas, the municipality commissioners (of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik) have been asked to shoulder greater responsibilities,” the source added. The municipality commissioners belong to the Morcha.
The top rung includes Gurung, Roshan Giri, MLAs Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Trilok Dewan and Rohit Sharma and elected GTA members
There was no word on writing to the governor to mediate to end the impasse. The sources said the party was not comfortable with M.K. Narayanan’s statement that Bengal extended from the oceans to the mountains. “It seems the governor is already setting a condition even before the talks. The party cannot talk of anything but statehood,” the source said.
Gurung said the Morcha would reject the GTA at an appropriate time, not straightaway. The Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee has also passed a resolution stating that all the eight constituents have decided to “reject the GTA at an appropriate time”.
The committee extended its support to the Morcha’s decision to continue the indefinite shutdown.
Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee today dismissed the Morcha’s plea that its three MLAs be allowed to sit in the Opposition benches instead of the Treasury benches.
Banerjee said the plea should have been sent by the Morcha legislature party chief, not party general secretary Roshan Giri.
Giri said the Morcha would not attend the extended budget session beginning on Monday. “But (legislature party chief) Chhetri will write to the Speaker,” he added.