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Morcha invited to CM Calcutta rally

Darjeeling, Jan. 28: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri have decided to attend a Trinamul Congress rally to be addressed by Mamata Banerjee in Calcutta’s Brigade Parade Ground on January 30.

The Morcha president and general secretary received an invitation from Trinamul to attend the meeting at a time rumours are abound that both the parties might enter an electoral understanding with regard to Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.

The Morcha had already declared that a meeting here on February 5 would decide if the party should field its own candidate or back any other political outfit in Darjeeling.

Speaking to The Telegraph over the phone, Morcha president Gurung said: “I will definitely be in Calcutta (on January 30) as I have work there. I might attend the Brigade rally.”

General secretary Roshan Giri was more specific. “I have already left for Calcutta and will be attending the meeting. Daju (Gurung) will be coming. I think other senior Morcha leaders will also be accompanying Daju. Trinamul has invited us to attend the meeting,” Giri told The Telegraph.

The relationship between Trinamul and the hill party had strained after around 2,000 Morcha activists, including 10 elected GTA Sabha members were put behind bars during the two-month Gorkhaland agitation that started in July last year.

After the state government cracked down on the movement, the relations between the Morcha and Trinamul have improved recently.

Yesterday, six GTA members were granted bail by a Darjeeling court in the last case in which they had been charged.

Observers said leaders of both the parties might discuss the Lok Sabha elections when they would be in Calcutta.

The Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat comprises Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong Assembly segments in the hills and Siliguri, Phansidewa, Naxal-Matigara and Chopra constituencies in the plains.

Even though the number of voters in the plains are more than those in the hills, the candidate supported by any hill party has invariably won the Darjeeling seat as the votes in the plains get divided between Trinamul, Congress and the CPM among others.

The Darjeeling district has a population of 18 lakh, of whom 10 lakh live in the plains. Till date, the hill people have voted en masse for a candidate supported by a dominant party in the hills, securing an easy victory for him.

This is, however, not the first time that Morcha leaders are attending a Trinamul rally in Calcutta.

On July 21, 2012, when the relations between the two parties were at an all time high, Morcha MLAs Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Rohit Sharma had been invited to the dais by Mamata.

Addressing the public, Mamata had then announced that Trinamul would “politically withdraw” 17 candidates who had filed their nominations for the GTA Sabha polls.

The term, “politically” was used as the last date for withdrawing the nominations had already been over. The Morcha won all 45 GTA seats.