|Bhaichung in Darjeeling on Monday; Subash Ghisingh. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, March 31: The Trinamul Congress candidate for Darjeeling, Bhaichung Bhutia, today called on GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh a day after Bimal Gurung requested the former DGHC chairman to back BJP nominee S.S. Ahluwalia.
The meeting between the former Indian football captain and Ghisingh points to the growing importance of the GNLF which commands over 40,000 votes in the three hill Assembly segments in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.
Although the leadership of both Trinamul and the GNLF refused to acknowledge the meeting, sources in the two parties have confirmed Bhaichung’s visit to Ghisingh’s residence on Dr Zakir Hussain Road early this morning.
The meeting lasted for 45 minutes.
“Bhaichung Bhutia was accompanied by local Trinamul leaders. But minister Gautam Deb (currently in Darjeeling) was not present,” said a GNLF source.
Earlier, Bhaichung had made an appeal to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung to support his candidature. But the Morcha decided to back BJP candidate Ahluwalia. While addressing a news conference at the Darjeeling Press Guild office, Deb didn’t take questions on the Ghisingh-Bhaichung meeting.
The minister lambasted Gurung for changing his stand at the drop of a hat.
“One morning he talks against Subash Ghisingh and in the evening, he seeks support. None can forget the inhuman treatment meted out to Subash Ghisingh as he was not allowed to bring his wife’s body to Darjeeling for the last rites,” said Deb.
Sources said Deb’s statement could be a way to reach out to Ghisingh for support.
A local Trinamul leader sounded optimistic about Ghisingh’s support after the meeting.
“We believe the meeting went off well. We are optimistic that the GNLF will back us and their support could help us sail through in the Darjeeling seat,” said the leader on condition of anonymity.
Deb also said the utilisation of funds by the Morcha-controlled GTA Sabha would be audited regularly.
Asked whether the accounts of the erstwhile DGHC which was headed by Ghisingh would also be audited, Deb said: “We will have to first look at the present body (GTA).”