Once Arch-rivals, GJM and GNLF Stitch Alliance to Fight TMC Together in Bengal's Darjeeling

Bimal Gurung is the very personification of the statehood demand and his return could change everything in Darjeeling, said a Trinamool leader.

Kolkata: In a fresh turn of events in Bengal, the Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha have decided to fight the Lok Sabha elections together against the Trinamool Congress in Darjeeling.

The Bimal Gurung led GJM and the GNLF, who have long maintained their rivalry, seemed to have now transcended their animosities to come together against the TMC in the Hills.

In 2017, the CID had issued a look out notice against Bimal Gurung for instigating violence, riots, killing, explosions and arson in Darjeeling. Since then, Gurung has been absconding. His name along with the family members’ were also removed from the voters’ list.

Recently, Gurung had approached the Supreme Court for interim protection from arrest in all the criminal cases they faced in Bengal. However, his plea was turned down by the apex court, which came as a major setback. Desperate to return to power, Gurung began talks with the GNLF leadership for an alliance, citing development of the hills.

Political expert Kapil Thakur, said, “This alliance is to protect their identity and Bimal Gurung’s desperation to regain his relevance. I think, this time they will field their own candidates rather than supporting other political parties. This will help them to intensify their demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland with more thrust.”

GJM secretary Rooshan Giri confirmed that GNLF and GJM will forge an alliance keeping the sentiments of the people of the hills in mind. However, the official announcement is expected to be out soon.

“Yes, we are going for an alliance. We felt that more than the party and party colour, the sentiments and demands of the people are important to us. It’s an alliance of our identity and we will contest the Lok Sabha poll together,” GNLF spokesperson, Neeraj Zimba told News18.

Siliguri Mayor and CPI (M) leader, Ashok Bhattacharya said, “I would like to tell the GNLF leadership that this will be the disaster to have an alliance with Bimal Gurung.”

Reacting to the alliance, Goutam Deb, TMC Darjeeling district president, said, “GNLF should not forget how Bimal Gurung backstabbed Subhash Ghisingh. Gurung was close to the GNLF founder and he himself betrayed him in 2007. I don’t want to comment much in the matter.”

Ghisingh had spearheaded the violent Gorkhaland agitation of the 1980s but his movement suffered a setback after Gurung rebelled and broke out to form his own party - Gorkha Janmukti Morcha - on October 7, 2007. Then, Bimal Gurung forced Ghisingh to leave the hills to spend most of his remaining life in Jalpaiguri.

After ten years, in September 20, 2017, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee formed a new body called the “Board of Administrators for Darjeeling Hills (BoA)” and appointed rebel GJM leader Binay Tamang as its Chairman to look in to the affairs of Darjeeling.

Then, Bimal Gurung accused Mamata of trying to divide the people in the hills and appealed to the masses not to step back from their demand for a separate state.