EOI, DARJEELING, 18 Apr 2017: Krishna Chhetri, a former spokesperson for the All India Gorkha League, and now president of the newly floated Gorkha Jankalyan Party, today said his party would not contest the municipality election and instead go for the NOTA (none of the above) option, as a mark of protest against the state government's domination of the hills.
Formed in 2015 with the sole agenda of achieving a separate state, the GJP will not participate in any process under the Bengal government, said its president. “We will not be a part of any process (election) of the state government. By casting our votes in NOTA we want to demonstrate our dissent towards Bengal and the state government's suppressive policy towards the hills. Our only agenda is and will remain achieving a separate state,” Chhetri said today.
Last year, Chhetri went on an indefinite hunger strike in Siliguri on the statehood issue and called it off after 15 days on the request of state tourism minister Gautam Deb.
The GJP's decision effectively implies that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s vote share will be divided in the upcoming election given that the TMC has already forged an alliance with the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) while the Jana Andolan Party has asserted to go alone, to make it a three-way battle.
Chhetri admitted anti-statehood parties would stand to gain but remained firm that it was for the GJM to take proactive steps on the issue. “We know our decision will help the party that is against the separation of Bengal. The TMC will gain, but it is for the GJM to take the initiative to forge a unity,” the GJP president said.
The GJP is presently on a 'Jan Sampark Abhiyan' that started on April 12 to continue till April 23 covering both the hills and plains areas of Siliguri and the Dooars. “We are meeting people across the hills and plains and raising awareness about the necessity and benefits of a separate state. People are understanding our cause and giving us good response, as many have joined our party ever since we floated it,” Chhetri said.
The GJP has also changed the nomenclature of the 'Gorkhaland' demand to Gorkha Pradesh, claiming it was on the advice of BJP leaders in Delhi. “We met and submitted memorandums to the central government and senior BJP leaders in Delhi. The Centre does not have any agenda on Gorkhaland as they said it sounds like someone is asking for a separate country. And with feedbacks from BJP leaders, we have decided to demand for a Gorkha Pradesh,” said Chhetri.
As part of its programme, the GJP is putting up posters with the statehood demand in the hills' rural and urban areas and also in Siliguri and the Dooars. Party leaders will camp for seven days in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik to form sub-committees and the next phase of the programme will be announced on April 26.