The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) suffered another setback to its already weakened position in the hills when Subhamoy Chatterjee — a key member of Darjeeling’s Bengali community — announced his resignation from the party on Saturday.
Chatterjee, who had been an active member of the GJM since its inception in 2007, and had remained a die-hard supporter of the demand for Gorkhaland-statehood, added that he would not join another party immediately.
On January 29, 2013, he had invited Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ire by displaying a placard stating ‘We want Gorkhaland’ at a function at Chowrasta in Darjeeling.
The move had prompted his arrest in 2013, when he participated in a GJM statehood movement and was detained for two months.
His departure was motivated by the “recent statements of the study forum member in Kurseon where he spoke against the minority community in the hills” leading to an increased sense of “insecurity”, he said.
Chatterjee added, “I was not given priority by the civic body while trying to implement projects for my ward, and I have made up my mind to leave the party.”
According to party officials, Chatterjee’s resignation is yet to be formally accepted. A GJM party worker said, “The issue will be placed in a meeting of the board members where the decision will be taken.”
Meanwhile, a source close to Chatterjee confirmed that he had decided not to join another party right away.
Not wanting to be branded a “betrayer or an opportunist”, the source said, “He has decided to stay away from politics for a bit. The issue can be given a communal color and used to create more hatred. He doesn’t want that.”
The intensification of the cry for separate statehood comes at a time when the GJM is tottering in the Darjeeling hills. Earlier last week, one of its senior-most leaders and chairman of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Pradeep Pradhan, joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday with seven other GJM leaders. Pradhan claimed to have joined the ruling party with 6,000 GJM workers.
Moreover, in the recently concluded state elections, the party’s performance was below expectations.
According to GJM insiders, Gurung had threatened to quit the GTA and relaunch a fresh movement for a separate Gorkhaland.