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Gurung unity nudge to Ghisingh
Morcha chief bid to keep Gorkha vote together

Sukna, March 30: Bimal Gurung today appealed to Subash Ghisingh, his mentor-turned-rival, to support the BJP candidate for the Darjeeling seat.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief also made a similar overture to Independent candidate Mahendra P. Lama, who is being supported by two other hill parties — the ABGL and the CPRM.

This is the first time Gurung has appealed to Ghisingh to join hands. “I would invite Subash Ghisingh to join in the struggle to achieve Gorkhaland and support the BJP candidate in the Darjeeling seat,” he said.

Referring to Ghisingh, who led a statehood movement in the hills in the 1980s but settled for autonomy later, Gurung said: “It was you who started the movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties before me in which 1,200 people died and 1,500 houses were torched. You must remember that these contributions were not made to vote for Trinamul or CPM.”

Ghisingh, whom the Morcha drove out of the hills in 2008, is now back in his house in Darjeeling. The GNLF, Ghisingh’s party, cannot name any candidate now as the date for doing so has passed. He has also not clarified if he would support any other party.

The contest for the Darjeeling seat is turning out to be a five-cornered one. The Morcha, JMM and the Kamtapur People’s Party have all agreed to support the BJP.

Trinamul has got the support of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad. The Left and the Congress have not formed any alliance yet, while Lama is being supported by the ABGL and the CPRM.

Gurung’s unity call today at Sukna, the gateway to the hills, could be to check any split in the Gorkha vote, a source said.

Today’s public meeting was the first that the Morcha and the BJP held together. Darjeeling votes on April 17.

The Morcha president said after the meeting: “As he (Ghisingh) had raised the demand for Gorkhaland, we should work together now to reach our goal.”

S.S. Ahluwalia, the BJP candidate from Darjeeling, and most of the central committee leaders of the Morcha were present today with Gurung, who in a message to Mahendra P. Lama, said: “Let’s come together and form a sweet and strong house which cannot be affected by landslides or storms. If you need a post in the government, I would, once the BJP government is formed at the Centre, ensure it. But please don’t stand apart. Join us to intensify our struggle for statehood.”

Ahluwalia, the Darjeeling candidate, said: “When the Gorkhas lay their lives to protect the country, it is fine. But when they demand separate statehood within the purview of the Indian Constitution, they are termed outsiders.”

He said: “The BJP is committed to forming smaller states. Once (Narendra) Modi’s government is formed at the Centre, the dream of Gorkhas will be fulfilled.”

Gurung said chief minister Mamata Banerjee “by using the police and administration as a façade”, resorted to “dictatorship”.

“When over 1,000 party workers and 15 GTA Sabha members were arrested, their families approached me and urged that I speak to Mamatadidi for their release. I could not let them down and went and talked to her.”

He said she “resorted to pressure tactics by putting a rider that all three MLAs of our party should support Trinamul in the Rajya Sabha elections. I instructed our MLAs to vote for Trinamul. It was only after our assurance that the workers and leaders were released.”