Binay Tamang, a prominent political face in the Darjeeling hills, has appreciated the Congress for meeting a number of demands of Gorkhas in the country.
His remarks, in which he drew comparisons between the performance of the Congress and the BJP, come within 48 hours of the party dislodging the BJP from power in Karnataka.
“The Congress gave us both the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. In 1992, the then Congress government recognised the Nepali language and included it in the Sixth schedule of the Indian constitution. It was the Congress government that had included Sikkim in the country and legislation was passed to provide safety and security to Nepalis, Bhutias and Lepchas in Sikkim. Also, there had been innumerable physical and geographical developments (during the Congress’s tenure),” Tamang said in a post made on social media on Monday.
Veterans in the hill politics said Tamang — whose political career has been of ups and downs — might be trying to align himself with the Congress at a time when the Grand Old Party got a fresh lease of life after the Karnataka show.
Initially, Tamang was in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha led by Bimal Gurung but in 2017, he, along with Anit Thapa, floated a separate faction of the party. Later, he deserted the Morcha and joined Trinamul in 2021. Again, in December last year, he left Trinamul.
“At a time when the Congress is trying to rejuvenate its support base, Binay Tamang’s remarks are significant. We wonder whether he wants to be the Congress’ face in the hills now,” said a political observer.
Since Independence, the Congress won thrice from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat (in 1977, 1991 and 2004). Dawa Narbula was the last Congress MP from the hills.
Since 2009, the BJP has been winning the seat, playing the statehood sentiments.
“Even after electing BJP candidates thrice, key demands like permanent political solution and ST status to 11 hill communities have remained unfulfilled. Hence, a number of hill leaders are disillusioned with the saffron party and Binay Tamang seems to be one of them. Though he is a bit on the sideline of the hill’s political arena, there can be some interesting developments in the coming days,” the observer said.
Tamang, while praising the Congress for its “mature political manoeuvring” including Rahul Gandhi’s nationwide drive, was critical of the BJP and slammed the party for being “arrogant” and “overconfident.”
“What has BJP given us to date, apart from the Gorkha Development Council in Assam? Since 2009, we have given three BJP MPs. Almost 15 years have passed since then and the demand of Gorkhas has not been fulfilled,” said Tamang.