Bimal Gurung lashed out at party leaders

Vivek Chhetri Telegraph - Darjeeling, July 10: Bimal Gurung today lashed out at party leaders for not being serious about tackling erosion in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's vote share that was apparent in the Assembly polls.

Although the Morcha won all the three hill Assembly seats, the party's winning margin dropped by around 68.5 per cent compared to the 2011 elections.

"There has been an erosion in the votes. If we work seriously, things will improve. I, however, think that the elected members (of the party) are not very serious about it," the Morcha chief said at a book release here today.

The thin attendance at the book release event at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan - the place seats 600 but around 150 people were there - may have also triggered Gurung's rage.

Referring to the civic polls due this year and the GTA elections to be held in July next year, he said: "Elections are nearing but proper focus is not there. The Prime Minister did not form a committee to examine the demand of granting ST status to 11 communities for nothing. This is an outcome of my 62 days' padayatra (in October last year)."
Bimal Gurung

The committee headed by Asok Pai, the joint secretary, ministry for tribal affairs, was formed in April this year.

In this year's Assembly polls, the Morcha's winning margin dipped in all the three hill seats.

In 2011, Trilok Dewan, the Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, had defeated GNLF's Bhim Subba by 1,06,555 votes. While the Morcha had polled 1,20,532 votes, the GNLF had bagged 13,977.

This year, the Morcha (Amar Singh Rai) won the seat by 49,913 more votes than Trinamul's Sarda Rai Subba. The GNLF had supported Trinamul in the seat.

In 2011, the Morcha's Harka Bahadur Chhetri had bagged 1,09,102 votes in Kalimpong while his nearest rival, Prakash Dahal of the GNLF, could poll only 7,427 votes. The Morcha's winning margin was 1,01,675 votes.

This year, Chhetri who floated the Jana Andolan Party, was defeated by the Morcha's Sarita Rai by 11,431 votes - a slide of around 90 per cent for the hill party despite Gurung's personal campaign in this seat.

In Kurseong, the Morcha's Rohit Sharma had bagged 1,14,297 votes in 2011 giving the party a lead of 93,096 votes. His nearest rival from the GNLF had to forfeit her deposit.

This time, Sharma won the seat by 33,726 votes defeating Shanta Chhetri of the GNLF.

According to sources, the anti-Morcha votes in the hills began consolidating since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In the parliamentary polls, the GNLF had joined hands with Trinamul and they stayed allies in the Assembly elections.

In 2014, the anti-Morcha votes in the three seats in total was 1,57,890. This year, in the three Assembly segments that figure has risen to 1,94,699.

Gurung seemed visibly irritated at the low turnout for the release of " Rajnitika Kuraharu" (Talks of politics) authored by P. Arjun, a former member of the party's Study Forum, who had been expelled for his connections with Independent candidate Mahendra P. Lama during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"I came from Kalimpong last evening to attend the programme today. I was expecting a number of writers and literary figures to felicitate P. Arjun here and a good turnout. This shows how things function when I am not around," Gurung told the gathering of around 150 people at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri was present at the book launch, as were the three hill MLAs and senior leader Binay Tamang.

"Even today, many elected GTA Sabha members and municipality commissioners have not come here, probably because they think they will not get a ticket in the next election," Gurung said at the programme that was organised by the Morcha.

"I have asked for the event to be videographed for my reference," he added.

During his address, Arjun said it was time for the party to introspect. "It is time for introspection right from the GTA to erosion of votes in the recent elections," he said.

EOI Report - DARJEELING 10 Jul 2016 A low turnout of party leaders for a programme forced Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today to announce the re-launch of a book  brought out by a senior member of the Study Forum - the GJM intellectual wing.

The GJM had organised a programme at the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling to launch the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun, a Study Forum member. Although Gurung launched  the book, he was visibly annoyed by the low attendance and minced no words to express it. “It is sad our leaders including the GTA Sabhasads and municipality commissioners are not present  for such an occasion. Maybe a section of municipality commissioners are apprehensive they will not get tickets for the upcoming election this year,” Gurung said.
Launch of the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun in Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling
Launch of the book 'Rajniti Ka Kura Haru' written by P. Arjun in Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan in Darjeeling 

Usually during party programmes, especially the ones Gurung attends, senior and unit party leaders, Sabhasads, municipality employees and members of frontal organisations are present.

However, today’s programme at the Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan saw no more than 100 people in attendance, despite the venue having a seating capacity of more than 600.

Expressing his frustration in strong words, the GJM chief issued a direct warning to the absentees. “I have noticed and made note of everything. I don't see a lot of leaders. I have asked our party’s official photographer to videograph the whole programme, which I will go through,” Gurung said.

Sources within the party said invitations for the programme had been dispatched well in advance and reminder calls had also been made. “We dispatched invitations to all leaders including the GTA

Sabhasads, municipality staff and officials and frontal organisations. We also called the leaders to remind them about today’s programme. What more can we do besides this?” said a senior leader on condition of anonymity.

The GJM chief said P. Arjun's book would be re-launched with much more fanfare from Kalimpong. “I will be in Kalimpong on July 18 or 19 and we will re-launch this book there.

I will invite prominent dignitaries including personalities from various fields of intellectual strata and felicitate P. Arjun,” Gurung said even as he admitted that the party had failed to live up to expectations in Kalimpong during the Assembly election.

“We have not done well in Kalimpong due to various reasons. But we don’t need to panic as we will sort things out and re-establish our base there. We however, need to retrospect on what has gone wrong  and try to rectify them,” he said.

In the recent Assembly election, the GJM’s margin of victory, especially from Kalimpong constituency, was low. Harka Bahadur Chhetri of the Jan Andolan Party, riding on the separate Kalimpong district plank, managed to tear into the GJM’s vote bank.

Gurung, who is also the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, emphasised the need to respect and preserve the works of writers along with the community’s literature, art and culture and language. “We must respect the work of writers as they contribute immensely to our literature, art, language and culture. Otherwise it will harm us socially and educationally,” he said.

P. Arjun, besides being a Study Forum member, was also a close advisor to the GTA chief executive till he was expelled from the party in 2014, just before of the Lok Sabha election. He however, returned to the GJM fold earlier this year.

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