Gorkha Janamukti Morcha to face stiff opposition in the hills

Writes Drimi Chaudhuri

Darjeeling, Apr 14, 2016, For the first time since its formation in 2007, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) might be facing a road block due to the machinations of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, in the Darjeeling Hills.

Months before the  Assembly elections, Mamata managed to break into the Morcha’s ranks and engineered the departure of Hadka Bahadur Chhetri, arguably the most articulate Gorkha leader. A doctor by profession, the soft-spoken man from Kalimpong won the Assembly seat in 2011 and emerged a popular face from within the Morcha leadership.  After he quit Morcha over “ideological differences”, Chhetri floated his own outfit, Jan Andolan Party (JAP) in November 2015 and posed a threat to Bimal Gurung's Morcha.

GJM Bimal Gurung to face JAP Harka Bahadur Chettri and  Mamata Banerjee alliance
GJM Bimal Gurung to face JAP Harka Bahadur Chettri and  Mamata Banerjee alliance
Things went a different way after Mamata drove a spike through the , announcing the state government's decision to set Kalimpong as a separate district. Soon, Chhetri aligned himself with the ruling Trinamool Congress and will be contesting in the second phase of the six-phase state polls on April 17 with support from Trinamool. If the enthusiasm of supporters at his rallies and public meetings are anything to go by, Chhetri will manage to upset Morcha's cart and retain his seat.
Chhetri has also brought about a change in Hill politics after almost three decades of agitation, which often turned violent and obstructive.

The sitting MLA from Kalimpong has refused to use the plank of the statehood movement for a separate Gorkhaland. "Gorkha political leaders have always used the issue of Gorkhaland as a poll plank, be it in the Panchayat elections or the parliamentary polls. I want to bring about change by maintaining amicable relation with the state government," he said.

Chhetri, who won the 2011 Assembly elections with nearly 1.3 lakh votes, hopes to repeat the feat and give a drubbing to his earlier party in the hustings.

 "I want to ensure actual development for Darjeeling and adjoining areas. My focus will be on getting steady water supply, set up schools and technical institutes, bring reliable healthcare facilities, things people need,” he said.

Chhetri believes that despite pressure from Morcha, he can turn things his way because he has the people's support .


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