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Bimal Gurung to hold padayatra from Kalimpong to Darjeeling

Festoons of the Morcha at Damber Chowk in Kalimpong
Bimal Gurung has decided to undertake a padayatra from Kalimpong to Darjeeling in an effort to mobilise the supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and send across a message that the party's unity hasn't been affected by rebellion by two of its leaders.

Sources in the Morcha said the decision had more or less been finalised at a meeting held at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling yesterday. The Morcha president is planning the march, whose date is yet to be announced, close on the heels of the defiance by two party MLAs.

Yesterday's meeting was attended by elected GTA Sabha members, hill municipal councillors and representatives of different frontal wings of the Morcha.

The meeting had been called by Gurung to get feedback from the leaders following the resignation of Kalimpong MLA, Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan from the Morcha.

The duo had questioned the Morcha leadership's style of functioning and said Gurung was acting in a dictatorial manner. Chhetri refused to resign as the MLA and instead quit the Morcha. Dewan resigned both from the party and the Bengal Assembly. Only Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma acted according to Gurung's directive and tendered his resignation from the Assembly.

A source said: "During the meeting yesterday, it was more or less finalised that a padayatra would be organised soon after the public meeting in Kalimpong, which is scheduled for September 30. The public meeting is being organised by the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha."

It is, however, unclear whether the padayatra would start immediately after the public meeting or a day after.

Sources in the Morcha said the march was to mobilise public opinion. "The march is to send a clear message that the Morcha still enjoys support in the hills," said the source.

In January 2011, thousands of Morcha supporters had started a march from Darjeeling to the Dooars. The marchers were, however, stopped at Sibchu on February 8 when they tried to enter Jalpaiguri district. Police opened fire at the venue and three Morcha supporters, Vicky Lama, Neeta Khawash and Bimala Rai were killed.

The march had been organised to demand the inclusion of the Dooars in the Gorkhaland that the Morcha wanted.

This time, the procession will be confined to a distance of about 55km between Kalimpong and Darjeeling. The march is likely to be completed within two days, unless Gurung takes a detour through Teesta Valley to reach Darjeeling from Kalimpong. The detour would double the distance.

Yesterday, Gurung had said after the meeting that "there is nothing to worry over" Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Trilok Dewan leaving the Morcha and asked what these two leaders had been doing for the past four-and-a-half years.

"What were they doing for the past four-and-a-half years? Why did they not discuss issues with me in the past four-and-a-half years? They were also invitee members of the GTA. What were they doing all this while? asked the Morcha president. "There is nothing to worry over these developments. Everything will be fine tomorrow."

Chhetri had yesterday said: "It seems they (Morcha leaders) are giving me more importance when I am out of the party than when I was in the party." 

Source: The Telegraph

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