Darjeeling, April 4: Subash Ghisingh’s party GNLF today said it would support Trinamul candidate Bhaichung Bhutia in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.
The written statement, which did not have Ghisingh’s signature — it had “President Gorkhaland National Liberation Front Darjeeling” written at the end — described Bhaichung as a “pahari Bhutia thito (a hill Bhutia lad)”.
The statement then said: “… The GNLF central committee in its meeting held on April 4, 2014, has decided that the GNLF supporters’ vital votes will be cast for him and the GNLF wishes him all the best.”
The statement was read out by senior GNLF leader Biren Lama at the GNLF’s party office that also doubles as Ghisingh’s residence on Dr Zakhir Hussain Road in Darjeeling.
Lama refused to take any questions apart from reading the text but Tshering Dahal, another senior GNLF leader, while speaking to the media outside Ghisingh’s residence said: “What Subash Ghisingh talks is not something that the public will understand immediately. He talked about Gorkhaland earlier, people came to know about its importance only much later. He again talked about Sixth Schedule sometime back which the people are only understanding now. It will take time for the public to understand this decision, too.”
Asked about the GNLF's decision to align with a party which is against division of state, Dahal said: “There is no question of Banga bhanga (Bengal’s bifurcation). This place belongs to the Gorkhas and the land has only been leased to Bengal.”
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung commented on Facebook that Ghisingh's decision “does not come as a surprise to me as I had mentioned about the unholy nexus between GNLF and TMC about two weeks ago”.
The GNLF’s support may boost Bhaichung’s votes in the hills, where BJP candidate S.S. Ahluwalia is expected to do better since he has the backing of the Morcha.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, the three GNLF candidates in the hills had cumulatively got 42,000 votes. At that time, Trinamul had not made its presence felt in the region, nor had the GNLF been able to run a big campaign.
Sources in the GNLF said they expected an improvement in the figure of 42,000 as Trinamul was trying to gain a toehold.
Gurung described the GNLF’s decision as a betrayal. “The man who spearheaded an agitation for Gorkhaland in the late eighties which left around 1,200 shahids (martyrs) could have shown his sincerity for Gorkhaland… by supporting any pro-Gorkhaland political party but he decided to go with the only anti-Gorkhaland party.”