Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Feb. 26: Bimal Gurung today said he would stay in Kalimpong for the next two months and return only after ensuring the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's victory in the coming municipality elections.
The Morcha president's decision comes at a time the Trinamul Congress is cementing its support base in Kalimpong, riding on the formation of new district and creation of development boards for different communities.
The Morcha has been facing reverses in Kalimpong of late and just a few days back, most of the GTA contract workers quit the organisation affiliated to Gurung's party.
Besides, around 5,000 people had joined Trinamul in Kalimpong earlier this month.
Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of a community hall at Lepcha Busty in Darjeeling today, Gurung said: "I will leave for Kalimpong either tomorrow evening or the morning the following day. I will be camping there for one-and-a-half months to two months. I will stay there during the election period and return after our victory."
The tenure of all four municipalities in the hills had ended in December last year and the civic bodies are being run by government-appointed administrators now.
Its not clear when elections to the municipalities will be held, but it seems Gurung is confident that the civic polls will be conducted soon.
Apart from the community hall, Gurung also inaugurated clubs for two societies of local people. The cumulative estimate of the three projects executed by the GTA is pegged at Rs 94 lakh.
"We are working in municipality wards. We have already allocated funds to the tune of Rs 4 to 5 crore for the 23 wards of Kalimpong municipality. Projects worth Rs 4 crore will also be undertaken in the Darjeeling municipality area and similar works will be carried out in Kurseong and Mirik (municipalities)," said Gurung.
With recent political developments weighing on his mind, he said: "Lot of political discourse is taking place in Kalimpong after the new announcement (of the district). People are analysing everything at the moment. Our people won't, however, forget to uphold the pride of our community."
The Morcha has been alleging that Mamata Banerjee has adopted divide-and-rule policy to weaken the Gorkhaland demand and that is why the chief minister formed the development boards. Gurung's reference to the community's pride seems to be an attempt to hit out at Mamata's development board card.
Even though Gurung said he would be camping in Kalimpong for the next two months, the Morcha leader is likely to be here for a few days in the first week of March as the GTA is trying to get defence minister Manohar Parikkar to Darjeeling to inaugurate two parking complexes and the renovated Rama Krishna Siksha Parishad school building.
Gurung's decision to spend most of his time in Kalimpong is an indication that the Morcha believes it needs to set its house in order in Kalimpong where Harka Bahadur Chhetri's Jana Andolan Party has a strong following.
In the last Assembly elections, even though the Morcha's Sarita Rai defeated Chhetri, the victory margin was a shade over 11,000 votes. In the previous election, the Morcha had won the seat by nearly one lakh votes.
In fact, the winning margin of the Morcha in the three hill Assembly seats went down by 68.5 per cent compared to the 2011 results.