Pravin Gurung, the general secretary of the Dajeeling Terai Dooars Gorkhali Adhiwashi Welfare Society, who had filed a PIL in Calcutta High Court against Mamata Banerjee's policy of forming development boards for select communities in the hills, has joined the Trinamul Congress, saying his move is in sync with the present times.
The development is a clear indication that a sizeable section of the hill population is getting sucked into the development board whirlpool slowly. Observers believe the trend is clearly worrying Trinamul's rival, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Gurung, who is originally from Rongo in Kalimpong subdivisions but is currently staying in Siliguri, confirmed the decision to The Telegraph. "Yes, I have joined the TMC," he said over the phone.
Asked about his move, given that he was a critic of development boards and a supporter of the Gorkhaland demand and had extended support to the Morcha in the last parliamentary elections, Gurung said: "My decision was prompted by the situation prevailing in the hills at the moment."
He went on: "When the people were solidly backing Gorkhaland demand, the leaders settled for a development agency called the GTA. Now, the people are increasingly talking about development and I am moving with the present times."
In February last year, Gurung, who is also the general secretary of the People's Forum, had filed a PIL in the high court against the development boards, saying they discriminated against citizens based on caste and creed and no yardstick was followed in forming the bodies. The petitioner had demanded that a single development board covering all tribal communities in the state be formed.
Today, Gurung said: "My stand was that development boards should be formed for all and slowly, boards are being formed."
It is not clear whether Gurung would immediately withdraw the case.
Asked if he was eyeing a post in the recently announced Gurung development board, he replied in the negative.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha refused, comment. "He was not with the Morcha and hence, I have no comments to make on this development."(TT)