GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Gurung in all’s-well scramble – (no better headline and the Bengal slant still prominent ?!!) – the diplomatic solution to the universal ‘Gorkha Cause’ still stands ?!!
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, May 26: Bimal Gurung has set the stage for the next round of tripartite talks that looked uncertain a week ago, sprinting to reclaim political space and paint a picture of normality in the face of an unusual show of defiance in the hills.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader met the central interlocutor, Vijay Madan, last night and this evening in Darjeeling. The next round of political-level talks is likely to be held in the first week of June.
The round was originally scheduled for the last week of this month but a standoff over territorial limits had clouded the timetable. The murder of Gorkha leader Madan Tamang had further vitiated the atmosphere.
Curiously, the Morcha today did not refer to the “territorial dispute” that had plunged the talks into uncertainty.
Gurung had maintained that unless the entire Darjeeling district, along with the Terai and parts of the Dooars, were included in an interim set-up, his party would not attend the next round. The Centre and the state had insisted that only the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong would be part of the interim arrangement.
The silence today need not mean the Morcha has dropped the demand. It is being seen as a tactical shift to ensure that the talks are back on track, which suggests that the Morcha is rattled by the backlash after Tamang’s murder.
Gurung also seems to be keen to send a message that he is still in complete control. (isn’t he, or the Bengal media ?!!)
Darjeeling did return to some sort of “normality” today with shops and other establishments opening after a four-day shutdown since the daylight murder of Tamang.
After the initial display of defiance, to which Gurung responded by leading a 100-car convoy to Darjeeling yesterday and announcing a “mammoth” rally on Sunday, those who distanced themselves from the Morcha have started trickling back to the fold.
Trilok Dewan, a former principal secretary in the Andhra Pradesh government, and Amar Singh Rai, former vice-principal of Loreto College, both of whom had resigned from the Morcha’s think tank, the Study Forum, announced their decision to return. (no explanation why ?!!)
Morcha sources said today that Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh was likely to arrive in Darjeeling on Saturday and attend Sunday’s rally.
In Calcutta, home secretary Samar Ghosh said that “as of today, permission for such a rally cannot be granted”.
“The state administration has not received any request for permission to conduct such a rally so far,” added Ghosh. “Given the situation in the hills, the question of granting permission for such a rally does not arise.”
Gurung, however, said that even if the government did not give permission, he would go ahead with the rally. (and probably will ?!!)
Gurung did what Ghising didn’t – and very adeptly too ?!!
FROM THE STATESMAN
BY SUDIPTA CHANDA
SILIGURI, 26 MAY: The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) president Mr Subash Ghisingh had committed the blunder almost three years ago, but his expunger and the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) president Mr Bimal Gurung steered clear of it.
Hounded out of Darjeeling in 2008, Mr Ghisingh has since then remained sequestered in the plains, first in Siliguri and now in Jalpaiguri.
GNLF supporters, particularly a major section from the Mirik area had at one point, the same year, made serious preparations to reinstate him to Darjeeling irrespective of the consequences. But, Mr Ghisingh dithered thereby losing valuable time and the seat of power.
Facing almost a similar situation where his return to Darjeeling from Delo in Kalimpong after the assassination of AIGL chief Madan Tamang was fraught with risks, the GJMM chief Mr Bimal Gurung did not commit the mistake Mr Ghisingh had.
Instead, Mr Gurung took the risk and chose to return to base yesterday amidst a show of numerical strength indicating the GJMM has shifted gears from the backfoot to damage control mode.
The savage killing of Madan Tamang on 21 May is a grim reminder that the impatient brand of politics imported in the Darjeeling Hills in the 80s is still very much “in vogue.”
The incident disgusted all and the pent up revulsion was directed at whatever is symbolic to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha. The GJMM flags and banners, considered sacrosanct till the other day, were yanked off their moorings and the organisation lost leaders faster than it gained.
The rot had, however, begun in April at Rangbul. (Reported by Himalaya Darpan for which their paper got publicly burnt in Kalimpong – True Lies ?!!)
Disappointed with comments issued on 25 April by the GJMM chief during a public rally at the Rangbul Krishi Farm, the GJMM Rangbul branch committee leadership had collectively relinquished their posts. More importantly, the GJMM Rangbul block committee leadership had claimed they were under “public pressure” to resign.
The slide gathered momentum in the post Madan Tamang killing period and the all-important question at this hour is would it effect a political change in the Darjeeling hills.
Those like the GNLF and other non-GJMM organisations, who had been trying to unsettle the GJMM, would no doubt try to make best use of the opportunity.
Their prospect would, however, depend on three major factors – acceptability among the people; how much would the GJMM let go and probably the most significant factor – is who or which organisation or platform would provide the leadership against the all-pervasive GJMM?
Central interlocutor meets GJMM leaders
FROM THE STATESMAN
SILIGURI, 26 MAY: The GJMM leadership had talks with the Centre-appointed interlocutor, Mr Vijay Madan in Darjeeling today, presumably to discuss the modalities of the proposed interim council and the tripartite talks scheduled in early June.
However, the party, grappling with the worst ever political crisis, looks dithering over the 10-day hill shutdown – the programme the party president, Mr Bimal Gurung announced earlier this month.
“The party central committee would decide in a day or two,” said the GJMM general secretary, Mr Roshan Giri. Putting up a brave front, Mr Giri said that they had made clear to Mr Madan that unless the territorial jurisdiction for the proposed council was satisfactorily settled they were unlikely to participate in the coming round of dialogue. SNS