Featured Image: Bimal Gurung’s photo being removed from GJM office at Kalimpong on Saturday.
BY BAPPADITYA PAUL
CALL it irony or the time-tested formula around which power politics revolves, Bimal Gurung seems to be fast losing grip over Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ~ for whose birth he played the lead role 10 years ago and eventually dethroned the one-time all powerful Subash Ghising from Darjeeling politics.
On the 10 anniversary of Morcha today, not only people in large number attended foundation day meetings organised by rebel Binay Tamang camp, his followers removed Gurung’s photo from the party’s district committee office at Kalimpong with little resistance.
A flag with Gurung’s photo printed at the centre, which fluttered tall on a mast at the office until today dawn, was also removed. In replacement, was unfurled the Morcha’s official flag featuring the Sun, Kanchenjungha, and two crossed machetes (Khukuri) ~ a traditional weapon of the Nepali speaking people.
As this was happening at Kalimpong, some 70-km away at Kurseong, GJM MLA Rohit Sharma attended the party’s foundation day celebrations organised by Tamang’s right hand Anit Thapa. Both Thapa and Sharma stood next to each other as the GJM flag was unfurled afresh.
Later, the MLA also attended the meeting convened by Thapa at a local auditorium, which was packed to the brim with Morcha cadres. As recent as 5 October, Sharma had gone to Darjeeling with supporters to attend a BJP meeting to which Bimal Gurung had extended support.
But as it appears now, with all the GJM councillors of Kurseong Municipality switching over to Tamang camp yesterday, Sharma too is slowly inching towards the new dominant force as Gurung continues to be in hiding fearing police arrest. Sources in the Hills even suggest that the councillors actually switched camp with the tacit support of Sharma.
At Darjeeling Motor Stand, Binay Tamang, who is now the chairman of semi-autonomous GTA’s Board of Administrators, addressed Morcha’s central foundation day meeting. A large number of Morcha cadres and supporters from in and around Darjeeling attended the event. Tamang later told reporters that the demand for Gorkhaland state will remain Morcha’s core agenda.
“We will take forward the Gorkhaland agitation but not at the cost of people suffering. There will be result oriented democratic agitation with people’s involvement shunning all sorts of violence. There will be no more bandhs in the Hills,” Tamang said.
Incidentally, Tamang is the one who had called the indefinite shutdown in the Hills after police had raided Gurung’s house on 15 June. Subsequently, he announced withdrawal of the bandh from 1 September, only to face a backlash from people. The bandh was fully withdrawn from 27 September only after Gurung made an announcement from his hideout.
Asked to comment on removal of Gurung’s photograph from Kalimpong Morcha office, Tamang said that no one is above the party.
Meanwhile, with the people of the Hills gradually shifting their allegiance, police too have stepped up the hunt for Gurung and a handful of leaders, who are still with him.
Today, police were out with public address system on a vehicle and made announcements at Singmari-Patlibas-Tukvar area warning people that giving shelter to Gurung or his aides will invite strict legal action. Police also made an appeal to all the absconding leaders, including Gurung, to surrender.
It was at Patlibas-Tukvar area where Gurung’s supporters had dug up the Darjeeling-Jorethang Road at three places yesterday to hinder the movement of security forces.