Bimal Gurung's camp to raise Gorkhaland issue during poll campaign
The youth wing of the Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to raise the Gorkhaland issue during the election campaign, an indication that the camp is running out of a core issue at the hustings.
The stand is also diametrically opposite to the one taken by the Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa camp of the Morcha.
The rival factions of the Morcha are allies of the Trinamul Congress and have both decided to field candidates in three hill Assembly seats. Trinamul left Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong seats vacant for the “friends”.
Prakash Gurung, the president of the Yuva Morcha (Gurung camp), said: “We will go to the people with our constitutional demand, which is Gorkhaland, in the current election.”
Trinamul is opposed to the division of Bengal and the youth front’s statement could put the ruling party in a spot in the rest of Bengal.
However, the bigger takeaway from the Yuva Morcha’s stand is an indication that the party is desperate to rely on its time-tested strategy of raising the Gorkhaland bogey when other issues have failed to lend an air of gravitas.
In the past, Bimal Gurung had even fought civic elections on the Gorkhaland plank.
Prakash tried to underline the fact that the youth wing’s stand was nothing new and reiterated that it had never really supported the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
“When the GTA was formed (in 2012), the Yuva Morcha neither supported nor opposed the hill body. Even in 2017, I was the first to resign from the GTA in March (three months before the statehood agitation and before other elected GTA members resigned) opposing the GTA,” said Prakash.
The Gurung faction’s leader added that the GTA was “not a permanent political solution” for the hills.
While the Yuva Morcha has made its stand clear on Gorkhaland vis-à-vis election, Gurung has so far been measured in his speech and is stressing that he has “not sold the dignity of the hill people”.
Leader of the other Morcha faction Anit Thapa had said recently: “It needs courage to say this, but I will not seek votes on the Gorkhaland slogan.”
The Tamang camp has been stressing the need for “politics of reality” and said hill leaders should stop seeking votes in the name of Gorkhaland.
“If elections are to be won for Gorkhaland, we should by now have had 10 Gorkhalands,” said Thapa.
Acknowledging the statehood sentiment in the hills, Thapa has been saying while the demand is “dear” to the hill people, it should be pursued by apolitical forums and intellectuals.
With the Gurung faction raising the statehood issue, the GNLF lost no opportunity to ridicule the hill party.
“They surrender themselves at Didi’s feet and now, they are talking about Gorkhaland. This is nothing but a political drama,” said GNLF leader Ajoy Edwards.
Many in the hills say the bigger question is whether the people will buy the Gorkhaland slogan raised by Gurung after his tie-up with Trinamul.
“The Yuva Morcha’s latest stand reflects the desperation to win the election and the lack of a core issue to campaign on,” said an observer.
Trinamul has some support in the hills and many wondered if Prakash’s statement might stop Mamata’s party from openly supporting the Gurung faction in the hills.
Hill Trinamul leaders have said they are yet to receive a clear direction from their “high command” on which Morcha faction they should support.