Kolkata

GJM founder Bimal Gurung makes public appearance, says he has severed ties with BJP

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha supremo Bimal Gurung addresses a press conference in Kolkata on October 21, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Three years after being in hiding, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) founder Bimal Gurung on Wednesday made a public appearance in Kolkata and announced that he had severed all ties with the BJP. Extending an olive branch to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Gurung said the BJP had not done anything for the Darjeeling hills.

Also read: Who is Bimal Gurung?

“I want to see Mamata Banerjee as Chief Minister for the third time in 2021,” Mr. Gurung said, adding that he wanted to ally with the Trinamool Congress in the 2021 Assembly polls to “give a fitting reply to the BJP.”

Long-time ally

Mr. Gurung has been an ally of the BJP and a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) for more than a decade and supported BJP candidates in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in the past, including in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. BJP nominee Raju Bista won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat with a margin of over 4 lakh votes in 2019.

“The Prime Minister or Home Minister has not fulfilled the commitment made to us in the past six years. Whereas Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fulfilled all promises she has made to every group or organisation,” Mr. Gurung told journalist in Kolkata.

Also read: Bimal Gurung charged under UAPA again

In a dramatic turn of events, the GJM founder, along with his close aide Roshan Giri, was first spotted outside the Gorkha Bhawan in Salt Lake but when the authorities refused to let him in, he held a press conference at a city hotel.

In 2017, Mr. Gurung led a violent agitation and 100-day shutdown in Darjeeling hills over the demand of separate State for Gorkhaland. After being booked under several cases, including under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Mr. Gurung had to leave the Darjeeling hills.

Another faction of the GJM led by Benoy Tamang warmed up to the Trinamool Congress and now holds control of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the regional autonomous body of Darjeeling hills.

Asked about the cases against him, Mr. Gurung said these were political cases. “I am not a terrorist or a murderer. These are political cases and I will fight them politically,” he said.

Also read: No-show by Gurung in Darjeeling

Reiterating his commitment for the issue of Gorkhaland, Mr. Gurung said, “Even If they arrest me, I will be happy to fight for Gorkhaland from behind bars.”

The development, which may have serious ramifications in the politics of West Bengal, particularly Darjeeling hills, comes days after the Union Home Ministry held a meeting to discuss the issues of the GTA region. An invite was sent to Mr. Gurung and representatives of his party also participated in the meeting.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 4:34:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/gjm-founder-bimal-gurung-makes-public-appearance-announces-breaking-ties-with-bjp/article32909976.ece

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