Bimal Gurung addresses the media in Siliguri on Sunday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, April 27: Bimal Gurung today shifted his gaze to the Terai and Dooars months ahead of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad elections scheduled for June.
He said his ultimate goal was not to run the GTA and he expressed confidence that the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Darjeeling, S.S. Ahluwalia, would win.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief said once the BJP comes to power in Delhi, the Morcha would take its development proposals for the hills and the plains to the Centre.
Gurung did not mention the demand of Gorkhaland or the statehood during the meeting with party leaders of the Dooars and Terai, probably mindful that a sizeable number of people in the plains were against statehood.
Asked about the future of the GTA after the Lok Sabha elections, Gurung said: “We are confident that the BJP candidate (S.S. Ahluwalia) will win from Darjeeling and his party will form the new Union government in Delhi.”
He added: “Once the new government with the BJP as the principal party is formed at the Centre, we will work in a democratic manner for simultaneous development of the hills and plains. We also want to make it clear that from now on, our party will take up programmes only in Delhi and no such programme will be taken up by us which can disturb the localities.”
“The Morcha president was here to assess the state of affairs in the SMP area and also learn about the organisational strengths of our party and certain other details,” a source said.
Political observers, while commenting on Gurung’s trip, said: “Such assessments are common ahead of the polls. Morcha is the strongest party in the Darjeeling hills till date. The party president wants to make an assessment of the plains. In 2009, the Morcha had fielded candidates in the three-tier polls. This year, they would do it again, most likely in alliance with the BJP which on the other hand, has KPP as an ally.”
Since the Morcha has joined hands with the BJP, differences have again cropped up with the Trinamul.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has criticised the GTA, where the Morcha is in power, saying that no work has been done by GTA.
Further, some state ministers, including north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, said the state might go for an audit of GTA accounts. Such remarks have widened the gap between the state government and the GTA and have strained the relation between the Morcha and the Trinamul for the past couple of months.
Gurung, who is also the GTA chief, replied on the functioning of GTA today.
“It is the chief minister to decide whether she wants the GTA to function. I am not somebody whose target is to run the GTA because it is not my ultimate goal. I will keep on striving for the ultimate goal. The chief minister, during her 23 trips to the hills, has only cut ribbons of different projects, none of which have been completed,” Gurung said.
“Whenever she has visited the hills, she has only disappointed us. We have honoured and respected her, but she has behaved very rudely with us,” he said.
“Even during the LF rule, when DGHC was functional, the then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had hardly visited the hills but had let the body (DGHC) to function on its own. This is because the CPM party functions on some rules and ideologies which is lacking in the present government and Trinamul,” the GTA chief added.
Trinamul leaders of Darjeeling district have not given much importance to the comments made by the Morcha chief.
“We don’t feel the remarks of Bimal Gurung are of much importance. Even people in the hills do not put give much importance to what he says. Earlier, he had stepped down from his post (of GTA chief) and has returned again. His dream of seeing the BJP candidate emerging as winner will remain a dream as Bhaichung Bhutia (the Trinamul candidate from Darjeeling) will win in the seat,” said Krishna Pal, secretary general of Darjeeling district Trinamul.
“So far as his comments on the chief minister are concerned, thousands of common people have welcomed and praised her spontaneously. It is far different from the way in which Bimal Gurung and his cohorts intimidate and oppress common people to obtain their support,” the Trinamul leader added.