EOI, DARJEELING 24 Aug 2016: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today received a major blow after the party’s vice president, Bhupendra (Pradip) Pradhan, who is also one of its founding members, quit to join the Trinamool Congress. Following this, the GJM central leadership called an emergency meeting and expelled the rebel leader from the party's primary membership and also his post.
Pradhan had kept speculations up since the last couple of days. The first news of him quitting the GJM came on Monday via a social networking site. And on Tuesday, the rumour gained momentum, after he drove down to Sukna to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee. All these days however, Pradhan, who is also the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha chairman, had denied of nurturing thoughts of quitting asserting instead he would remain with the GJM. In fact, on Tuesday, GJM president Bimal Gurung had called on Pradhan at his residence in Naya Bazar, Kurseong to check on his health.
Pradhan, while accepting the TMC flag in a public meeting in Kurseong today, claimed that the GJM-run GTA had failed to work for the people and this was the primary factor behind his decision to quit.
“I am from Kurseong but I could not do anything for my area in spite of being a GTA Sabhasad and the GJM vice president. I have spent from my pocket, but the GTA has not done anything on the promises it has made,” he alleged.
Recollecting the formative days of his former party, the rebel leader said, “Much before October 7, 2007 when the GJM was formed, I had already laid the base for the party in the hills. At that time, the GJM was a non-entity and so was its president. In fact, I was the one who made Gurung what he is today."
Pradhan asserted he would continue to work for the Gorkhaland demand even though he had joined an anti-statehood party. “I know I am joining a party that is opposed to the separate statehood demand and I have all the martyrs in mind. But then, Gurung and his party are not sincere about the statehood demand which is why I quit,” he said. “I am also a Gorkha and want a separate state. And if an honest leader comes along I will extend that person my support. But I assert the GJM will not start another agitation as there is money to be had in the GTA,” added the Sabhasad who represents the Pandam-Phoobshering constituency.
Addressing a huge crowd at the railway station in the heart of Kurseong town, Pradhan blamed the GJM for not developing the area even as he promised to work for the people.
“The GJM promised a lot of things for Kurseong but not one single word has been kept. I have talked to the chief minister who has assured to extend all support to me to develop this area,” he said.
Pradhan howeverm said he would leave the TMC too if it failed to live up to the assurances given to him. “I have seen two chief ministers. I have joined the TMC only because of the assurances given by the present CM. But if I find the promises are not kept I will leave the TMC too,” he said.
State minister and senior TMC leader, Arup Biswas, while handing the party’s flag to 500 families who quit the GJM, announced Pradhan as the Kurseong (hill) TMC chairman. The minister fired a fresh salvo on the GJM aiming at its misrule. “The GJM party has failed to work for the people even though the state government is providing funds. The GJM president issues threats of quitting when elections are near, this shows his hollowness. This way, it will be the people who will retire him in the coming days,” he said.
Reacting to the development, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the party was strong and united and would not be affected by Pradhan's departure. “He was inactive in the party. His leaving us will not affect our party in any way,” he said after attending the party’s central committee meeting to decide on Pradhan’s fate that also discussed ways to move forward with the statehood demand and how to tackle the present political scenario.