Gurung challenges Ghising to contest GTA polls

“What is the point of going to Court?”

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung was dismissive here on Thursday of Subhas Ghising’s petition in the Calcutta High Court recently challenging the Constitutional validity of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Act, but challenged his one-time mentor to contest the upcoming GTA elections.

“Nothing will emerge from it, so what is the point of going to Court? Come to Darjeeling and fight the elections (to the GTA) by putting up candidates,” said Mr. Gurung, referring to the move of Mr. Ghising, president of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).

Mr. Gurung’s remarks come at a time when his own party is still undecided on contesting the GTA polls. He was here in the city for talks with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Calcutta High Court had on June 19 admitted Mr. Ghising’s petition and directed the State Government to file a reply within three weeks, according to the GNLF chief’s lawyer.

Mr. Gurung’s suggestion that Mr. Ghising go to Darjeeling to contest the polls is more of a challenge than anything else.

The GNLF chief, who had spearheaded the movement for a separate Gorkhaland State in the 1980s, was driven out of the hills by GJM supporters in the face of violence in July 2008, after his one-time protégé Mr. Gurung left the GNLF to form his own party, the GJM, in October 2007.

The GNLF leader hurriedly left only weeks after his return to the Darjeeling hills from political limbo in April 2011, following the announcement of the results of the Assembly polls.

His party had suffered a severe drubbing in the three hill constituencies where it had put up candidates, and the results were an affirmation of the GJM’s credentials as the principal political force in the region.

That was the last time Mr. Ghising, former Chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), and whose political supremacy in the Darjeeling hills was unchallenged for more than two decades, had tried to return to power in the region.

But it is ironic that despite their animosities, both the leaders have been criticised by their political opponents of betraying the cause of a separate State.

While Mr. Ghising was accused of failing the Gorkhaland promise when he agreed to the setting up of the DGHC that put the lid on the statehood movement in 1988, Mr. Gurung is now facing a similar charge from his adversaries, even though the GJM claims that the GTA is a step forward in its movement for a separate State of Gorkhaland.

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