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Why no one is afraid of Bimal Gurung

After nearly two years,prolonged bandhs have returned to the Darjeeling hills in the wake of the Centre’s decision to allow a Telangana state.

Written by Madhuparna Das |
August 9, 2013 3:18:57 am

After nearly two years,prolonged bandhs have returned to the Darjeeling hills in the wake of the Centre’s decision to allow a Telangana state. However,if the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha sees this as its achievement,that is the extent of it.

For,the complete shutdown he has enforced — exhorting “let the people suffer” and declaring that it is a “do-or-die” battle — apart,GJM chief Bimal Gurung’s popularity is on the wane. The Centre,that has avoided a dialogue with the GJM so far,knows it; Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,who has adopted a hard line and declared that she won’t let the division of West Bengal,knows it; and as is clear to anyone visiting the hills,the people know it.

Gurung lost credibility when his men accepted the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in a tripartite agreement in August 2011,which was seen by many supporters as a climbdown on the statehood demand. The GTA functioning was marred by allegations of the Mamata government’s interference. The current agitation is being seen as a face saver by a movement struggling to keep itself relevant,with its hand forced by the Telangana development.

Interestingly,while Gurung may have quit as GTA chief executive,his men stay on as executives. Sources say that Gurung,in fact,never expected Mamata to accept his resignation without even trying to talk to him.

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However,the CM,who counted peace in the hills as one of her achievements,has consistently taken a tough stand against the GJM. Six months ago,she had made a bid to split the Lepchas from the GJM. Mamata is believed to have now ordered the police to clamp down on the morcha leaders,reopening old cases. One of these could be the daylight murder of Gorkha League president Madan Tamang in 2010. The case is now being investigated by the CBI. Kept on the backburner following the GTA accord,the case could see a revival as the Centre seeks to keep the GJM in line.

That could explain the Centre’s indifference towards a GJM delegation that is in Delhi for talks. With only BJP support to fall back on,the GJM can do little but wait for the Centre to provide it an exit route. Perhaps with some sort of an audience with central Congress leaders,or even some assurance of tripartite talks to review the GTA agreement.

Madhuparna is a principal correspondent based in Kolkata

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First published on: 09-08-2013 at 03:18:57 am
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