Uproar in the hills over ‘tallest leader’ comment
The simmering tension between BJP alliance partners in the hills — the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal camp) and the GNLF — came to the fore after an inner core member of Bimal camp issued statements projecting the fugitive as the tallest hill leader ever.
Binu Sundas, an assistant professor of a college under Delhi University and a close confidant of Bimal Gurung, gave an interview to a web portal on Friday where he said Bimal Gurung was a taller leader than Subash Ghisingh (of GNLF), creating a storm in the hills.
Ghisingh had dropped the Gorkhaland demand, Sundas said. “The GTA agreement did not drop the Gorkhaland demand… the wordings in these agreements suggests who is a taller leader,” Sundas said.
Though the BJP doesn’t have an organisational base in the hills, the saffron party has been winning the Darjeeling seat since 2009, and is an important player. Anti-Trinamul parties like the Morcha and the GNLF have tried to ally with it. Now that the Bengal elections are nearing, both are trying to project themselves as the main force in the hills, said an observer.
The GNLF leaders, who have an arrangement with the saffron camp, were livid at the alleged attempt to demean the political ability of the the GNLF, a party formed in 1980.
Ajoy Edwards, GNLF leader, reacted on social media: “I am sorry my friend Mon Ghisingh for convincing you to forgive and forget our enemies for the greater good of our people...” Ghisingh is the president of the GNLF and Edwards was indicating that he had convinced his party president to tie up with the GJM (Bimal faction) despite being “wronged” by Bimal.
During Gurung’s rule GNLF leaders, including Edwards, had to leave the hills and the body of Subash’s wife could not be brought to the hills for cremation. Edwards was referring to these.
The GNLF and GJM (Bimal) had come together for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The strain between alliance partners had come into fore ever since Sundas and his colleague Nima Tamang met home minister Amit Shah in Delhi recently and issued a statement that the ministry would hold a tripartite meeting between “Centre, state and GJM” within a fortnight.
The GNLF was upset with this alleged “one-upmanship”.
Sundas, speaking to The Telegraph clarified that the Bimal Gurung still believes in a united approach. “We had sent feelers for a meeting with the Union home minister. His office called us at 2pm about a meeting at 6pm,” he said.
Sundas added that he had brought out Bimal Gurung’s reference as a “face” is needed in a movement.” “I appeal to all not to react but wait till the process for a tripartite meeting starts,” he added. Keshav Raj Pokhrel, spokesman of GJM (Binay camp) threw in a new angle: “If the tripartite talk is only on Gorkhaland, we want to participate.” Roshan Giri, general secretary (Bimal Gurung camp) rebuked Pokhrel’s statement. Raju Bista, Darjeeling MP of BJP, asked for unity among the coalition partners.