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Statehood stage to shift to Delhi

Darjeeling, June 16: Bimal Gurung has urged Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters to mobilise at least 500 people from each of the 45 GTA Sabha constituencies to travel to Delhi during the Parliament winter session and press for creation of Gorkhaland, a senior leader of the party has said.

The GTA chief told a rally at Bijanbari, 35km from here, yesterday that he “couldn’t dance and celebrate” till the statehood was achieved, the senior Morcha leader said.

“I urge our supporters to start mobilising 500 to 600 supporters from each of the 45 GTA constituencies who will be ready to go to Delhi during the winter session. We must not rest till statehood is achieved but as I have said earlier, the agitation will only be Delhi-centric this time around,” the Morcha leader quoted Gurung as saying.

The rally was organised to celebrate the victory of Morcha-backed BJP candidate S.S. Ahluwalia from Darjeeling.

“Today is a celebration day but I cannot dance and celebrate till statehood is achieved,” Gurung reportedly added.

The victory celebration was organised by four GTA constituencies, Bijanbari-Pulbazar, Relling-Kaijalay, Rimbick-Lodhama and Chungthung.

P.T. Ola, a central committee member of the Morcha, and the GTA member from Ghoom-Jorebunglow constituency, said: “Bimal Gurung has also directed all Morcha leaders to include members of various frontal organisations (of the party) in the Delhi programme. He has said a series of events will be organised in Delhi but didn’t spell out the details.”

The Morcha has more than 25 frontal organisations.

Gurung’s announcement would be a relief to the hill people who are dependent on tourism and protests and strikes generally have an adverse effect on tourist traffic.

Gurung had said earlier that the Gorkhaland agitation would be Delhi-centric in the future and no general strike would be called in the hills.

During the last phase of the agitation that started in July 2013, the Morcha had called a spate of strikes that stretched to almost month.

The strike crippled the local economy and kept tourists away from the hills in the Puja season.

It forced the state government to take firm administrative measures, including deployment of paramilitary forces and the arrest nearly 2,000 Morcha and 10 elected GTA members.

The GTA members were subsequently released on bail after weeks in jails.

Gurung also said development projects would be taken up across the hills, not just in Darjeeling town. “We will carry on with our development work in the hills and you will all see visible changes in the next one-and-a-half years,” Ola quoted Gurung as saying.