|The newly-inducted members of Trinamul at Teesta Bazaar on Sunday. |
Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha
Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, Dec. 21: Over 120 members of the Janmukti Himalayan Rajmarg Chalak Sangathan, a union of truck drivers affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, today switched political allegiance to Trinamul, saying the predominant party in the hills was indifferent to their demands.
Among those who deserted the Morcha for Trinamul included the president of the Sangathan, Robin Thapa, secretary Sunil Biswa and chief adviser Kamal Karki. They and others were welcomed into Trinamul by Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul's Darjeeling hills unit, at Teesta Bazar, 16km from here.
"We will try and help address your (drivers') grievances. We know the Morcha will try and lure you back to its fold by making false promises, but don't succumb to the pressure. The Morcha is no longer janmukti, but oonmukti (self seekers)," said Mukhia.
Thapa said this was the first batch of the 2,100-odd members of the Sangathan to join Trinamul and more would follow suit. "Our organisation will be known as the Himalayan Rajmarg Chalak Sangathan, TMC. Despite helping the Morcha for all these years, we have been ignored by the party," he said.
Thapa listed a host of problems faced by drivers of heavy vehicles mainly plying on NH31A.
"Our members ferry goods from Siliguri to different places in Sikkim and the hills in small trucks. However, heavier vehicles from outside with larger carriage capacity are eating into our business. Despite bringing the matter to the notice of the Morcha, nothing has been done. Our demands for basic facilities like an ambulance and land to build our office have not also been met. The Morcha prefers to look the other way even at times of accidents and other emergencies. Our members are fed up with the apathetic attitude of the Morcha towards us and that is why we decided to join Trinamul," he said.
The Morcha, however, sought to downplay the desertion and the allegations.
"Look, we are yet to be informed about the matter by the Janmukti Chalak Mahasangh. However, my personal view is that a handful of them have decided to leave us for their own personal interests, not related to politics of the party," said Kumar Chamling, the spokesman for the Morcha's Kalimpong branch.