Hitting out at Opposition leaders such as Binoy Tamang, GJM’s Bimal Gurung and Hamro Party’s Ajoy Edwards, GTA chief executive Anit Thapa said people of the Darjeeling hills have understood that some parties are “agitating for Gorkhaland statehood just to grab power”.
Thapa asserted there was no point in having a stand-off with the West Bengal government over the issue as the power to grant statehood lies with the Centre.
Dismissing graft allegations in the GTA, that governs West Bengal’s northern hills, he hit out at Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista, accusing him of levelling “baseless” charges ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls to divert attention from his failure to deliver on the promise of creating Gorkhaland, “based on which the saffron party has won the seat three times in a row”.
In a telephonic interview with PTI, the supremo of the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM), that runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), asserted that the ruling dispensation in the hills will sweep the panchayat elections in the region, which is likely to take place in a couple of months along with the rest of the state.
“Common people of the hills have understood that some parties are agitating for Gorkaland just to grab power. It’s a central matter. There is no point in fighting the state government. There is no public support for any stir. The BJP has won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat three times in a row. But they have done nothing for the Gorkhas,” he said.
Tamang, Gurung and Edwards have joined forces to reignite the stir for Gorkhaland. They had last month called for a 12-hour bandh in the hills protesting a resolution passed in the West Bengal Assembly against any attempts to divide the state but withdrew it citing class 12 board examinations, after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had spoken out against “forcible shutdown” of the hills.
Thapa said, “During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Raju Bista had promised at Mahakal Dham (renowned Shiva temple in Darjeeling) that he would create Gorkhaland state. With polls to the Lower House of Parliament due next year, he is trying to divert people’s attention from his failure to fulfil his promise by levelling baseless charges of corruption against the GTA.” The BGPM chief asserted that the ruling dispensation will sweep the panchayat elections, which is being held in the hills after 22 years. “Panchayat elections are happening in the hills after a long time due to concerted efforts of us and the state government. We will fight the polls on development issues.
“In the GTA polls held last year, we won most of the panchayat areas and we will sweep this year’s village council elections as well. The opposition will find it difficult to have even one panchayat pradhan,” he claimed.
Formed in 2021, the BGPM contested 36 seats in the polls to the 45-member GTA in June last year, bagging 27 seats. The Trinamool Congress also won five of the 10 seats it fought. The two parties later formed the board.
The political equations in Darjeeling hills changed after the diminishing of the stature of Bimal Gurung, leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) who disappeared and then resurfaced in 2021 in Kolkata and the failure of a prolonged 105-day shutdown in 2017.
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