The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha faction led by expelled leader Binay Tamang has started flexing its muscle in the Darjeeling hills by taking control of party offices. Nineteen of 32 elected councillors of Darjeeling municipality Sunday expressed allegiance to the Binay Tamang faction. Mingur Yolmo, councillor of ward number four, said: “We held a meeting today and decided we will form the board under Binay Tamang. 19 councillors were present today, and three others extended their support through phone. They will join us shortly. We believe in democratic agitation for Gorkhaland under Binay Tamang.”
According to a PTI report, on Saturday, 17 councillors of Kurseong municipality extended their support to Tamang. Expelled GJM leader Anit Thapa said the leaders extended support to the new GTA chief on the party’s foundation day. GJM chief Bimal Gurung is in hiding after a number of cases, including under with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were slapped on him. Top leaders close to Gurung are also in hiding and some like Roshan Giri are in Delhi.
Tamang, who is now the chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration board, is trying to fill up the political vaccum. “People of the Hills are with us and not with anyone else. People of the Hills want development and peace. How can leaders who hide lead the people in the Hills. I am with genuine GJM leaders,” Tamang said recently.
The Tamang faction with the help of Anit Thapa, another expelled GJM leader, is spreading its base in Kalimpong and parts of Darjeeling. One by one, they are getting hold of party offices and are trying their best to woo local leaders and supporters.
Recently, a BJP delegation led by state president Dilip Ghosh was heckled in Darjeeling allegedly by followers of Tamang. Many saw this as an example of the growing influence of Tamang in the Hills.
After Kalimpong, where local leaders supported Tamang, GJM leaders and followers in Mungpoo extended support to him Sunday.
“We are aware of the political game being played. On the one hand, police is putting pressure on our absconding leaders and making sure they do not expose themselves publicly. On the other, the administration is supporting Binay Tamang. Tamang is a traitor who is now working for Trinamool Congress in the Hills. People of the Hills will resist their move,” said a GJM leader close to Gurung on the condition of anonymity.
A team of the CID has been raiding areas in Sikkim to arrest Bimal Gurung and other Morcha leaders in hiding.
Meanwhile, police also thwarted a pro-Gorkhaland rally and public meeting organised by the Gorkhaland Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti, an apolitical body in Darjeeling on Sunday.
The rally was expected to march from Batasia to Chowrasta where a public meeting was scheduled. However, the police stopped the march at Batasia and leaders had to hold a meeting at Gorkha Dukh Vivarak Samiti Hall.
In a separate incident, police arrested two GJM supporters in the Hills in connection to cases of arson and violence during the 104 day long strike.
Hamid Hussain (31) and Bibhusan Chetri (19) were arrested in Darjeeling. Later, they were produced to court and sent to 10 days’ police custody. Police said the duo were involved in arson in the Hills.