THE Gorkha Janmukti Morcha faction led by Binay Tamang on Monday said it has been invited by the state government to attend the second bipartite meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Hill parties, to be held at Uttar Kanya near Siliguri on Tuesday. Bimal Gurung, who leads the other GJM faction, meanwhile, is yet to receive an invite, said sources. However, the government has called GJM MLAs Amar Rai (Darjeeling), Rohit Sharma (Kurseong) and Sarita Rai (Kalimpong) to the meeting in their capacity as elected representatives.
This comes after the Gurung faction, last week, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and expressed the desire to attend the bipartite meeting. Rohit Sharma and Sarita Rai had attended the meeting in New Delhi.
While Amar Rai and Sharma — who are currently in Kolkata — had written to Mamata expressing their desire to attend the meeting, it is uncertain whether any of the three would actually go to Uttar Kanya.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Amar Rai said: “We are interested in attending the meeting. We have received a confirmation on the phone last night that we have been given the permission to attend. But we don’t know if we would be able to reach Siliguri in time. If we can reach Siliguri tomorrow, then we will definitely attend.”
Sharma, too, said the he has been given a short notice to attend the meeting. “If we get tickets to travel tomorrow, we will. We don’t know if anyone else from the GJM has been invited.” Sarita Rai could not be contacted for comments.
Meanwhile, Anit Thapa, who was recently expelled from the GJM along with Binay Tamang, said: “Our agenda remains the same, which is Gorkhaland. We will push for tripartite talks. We will also request the chief minister to compensate those who have been affected by the indefinite strike in the Hills — government employees and tea garden workers — who have not received salaries for the last three months…they should get their salaries.”
But with the Gurung faction absent, it is unclear what will happen to the strike that has brought Darjeeling Hills to a standstill. Tuesday will mark the 90th day of the shutdown. While the Gurung faction has been spearheading the strike, the Tamang group is opposed to continuing with it.
“Maybe the state government feels that the people are already fatigued and if the strike lasts longer, then they will themselves give up. In any case, it is not a good political strategy on part of the state government to not invite the Gurung faction. But after the first bipartite meeting on August 29, the CM had said that the same representatives who had come to Kolkata will be invited again… no additions will be allowed,” said a political observer.
At the August 29 meeting in Kolkata, GJM was represented by Tamang. Following the meeting, Tamang had called off the indefinite strike in the Hills for 12 days, following which, he and Thapa were expelled from the party by Gurung.
Besides the Tamang’s GJM faction, other Hill parties which will attend Tuesday’s meeting included GNLF, led by president Mann Ghishing, and and Jan Andolan Party, led by president Harka Bahadur Chhetri.