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Tamang faction’s first rally today in Darjeeling, Gurung asks people to stay away

Binay Tamang BOA chief
The Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa led faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will hold its first ever public meeting at 11 am in Darjeeling on Sunday after the two leaders were expelled from the GJM by party chief Bimal Gurung in September. It will also be the first ever meeting after the state government had set up a Board of Administrators for the Hills, with Tamang as its chairman.

While the faction had held several smaller meetings in Kurseong (Thapa’s stronghold) and in Kalimpong, the Sunday’s meeting is likely to determine whether it has actually gained traction in the Hills following the over three-month-long indefinite bandh for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Darjeeling has always been a stronghold of Gurung and his own constituency, Tukvar, falls in the district.
Thapa, one of the main speakers at Sunday’s meeting, admitted that the rally is being held to determine how much strength their faction has gained.

“We will of course talk about our plans, our (future) road map, what development projects we have in mind for the Hills, how they will be implemented and how we plan to take the cause of Gorkhaland forward. But, essentially the meeting is being held to see how much traction we have gained, and how much support we have managed to garner in Darjeeling,” he said.

Thapa added that their faction has held numerous meetings in Kurseong, Kalimpong and other areas over the last few months. He said that according to their estimates, the faction expects at least 15,000 supporters on Sunday.
“Of course Gorkhaland is still on the table. But not in the form of the agitation we have just gone through — with innumerable sufferings for the people and violence. People were completely fed up of the indefinite strike. Even if we call a similar strike now, we would lose support,” he said.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of Sunday’s public meeting, Gurung on Friday released an audio message from an undisclosed location, asking the people of the Hills to not attend the rally. Announcing that November 19 will be observed as a ‘Black Day’ in Darjeeling, Gurung said that “it is a ploy” by the Mamata Banerjee-led government to show that Tamang is now the leader of the Hills and also to veer the agitation away from Gorkhaland.

Reacting to Gurung’s call for a boycott of the meeting, Thapa said, “Ab who bhi kya karega bechara. All he can do now is release these audio recordings. I believe that we have managed to capture the Hills already.”
Political observers in the Hills, however, described the scheduled meeting as “nothing less than a watershed moment for Darjeeling politics”.

“Tomorrow’s meeting will determine the future course that the Hill politics will take. If the Tamang faction can show that it has the requisite strength and if thousands of people turn up for the meeting, then it will show that the Gurung faction is waning and that the new leadership has made inroads into Hill politics. Not just Tamang, but there will be space created for new leaders from GNLF and Jan Andolan Party,” said a political analyst in Darjeeling.

The analyst added, “There is a possibility that many will show up tomorrow despite Gurung’s warning. The 104-day strike (demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland) was a bit too much for the people to take and led to a lot of sufferings.”

“From what I have heard, the Tamang faction has also penetrated into Tukvar. Many GJM co-founders have switched over to the Tamang faction — Dawa Lhama, Jyoti Rai and Diwakar Gurung — just to name a few. There were around 90 members in GJM’s central committee and 35 have already switched over to the Tamang faction,” the analyst said.
Sources said that in the coming days, the Tamang faction is likely to reconstitute its central committee, inducting more members into it.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will hold the next all-Hill party meeting on November 21 to carry forward the bipartite dialogue.

Express News Service

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