With the GJM heading towards a divided house, Jan Andolan Party president Harka Bahadur Chhetri on Saturday claimed that a “weak GJM is better for the Gorkhaland movement than a strong one”. Chhetri, one of GJM’s most strident critics and its former spokesperson, claimed that the party had called an indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills only to improve its dwindling public support.
The statement comes a day after GJM chief Bimal Gurung expelled party chief coordinator Binay Tamang and central committee member Anit Thapa for calling off the indefinite shutdown till September 12, following a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Hill parties on August 29.
“I don’t believe this was a movement for a separate state at all. This was never the right strategy… calling an indefinite strike. It’s playing with people’s sentiments. Do people really believe that by holding a strike endlessly, they will get a separate state? What has happened is very simple — GJM found the ground slipping from under its feet and that it was losing public support. This strike was a reaction to it… to stall this loss of popularity, instill fear in the people and to paralyse the political functioning of all other parties,” Chhetri told The Indian Express.
“The GJM pleaded with Delhi to invite them (for talks) but Delhi sent them back to Kolkata. When it comes to Binay Tamang’s expulsion, he had started getting a lot of attention… this made Bimal Gurung insecure… this is what I feel… this happens in one-man parties like GJM. Since they feared that he was emerging as an alternate leader, they decided to discredit him. Anit Thapa has a huge support in Kurseong. So, he was also a threat,” he added.