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25 Jun 2017

Join people in protest: Bimal to party

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, June 24: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today directed party leaders who resigned from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) yesterday to join common people in the statehood protests, underlining the need to be seen as leading the agitation at a time other power centres were emerging.
Of late, most rallies across the Darjeeling hills are being held spontaneously and not many senior Morcha leaders have been spotted on the ground orchestrating the movement. Sources said Gurung wanted the Morcha leaders to be visible and also to control the agitation.
Yesterday, Subash Ghisingh's son and GNLF chief Mann Ghisingh led a rally in Darjeeling town for the first time since becoming president of the party almost two years ago.
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Today, Gurung addressed all the 43 Morcha leaders who resigned from the GTA at his office in Patlebas.
"The public are out on the streets. Now that you have resigned and are free, you all must come out on the streets," the Morcha chief told them.
Since the agitation began on June 8, most senior Morcha leaders have been co-ordinating the movement from behind the scenes.
Today, more than 10,000 people participated in a rally in Darjeeling. In the evening, residents brought out two candle-light marches in the town.
"Only bhashan (speech) will not work. We will have to be practical and be on the field. We were together in the GTA and we must be together now. Even if we have to die, we will die together," Gurung told the Morcha leaders.
Several Morcha leaders are said to be in hiding after cases were slapped on them.
Rubbishing some media reports that he had gone underground, Gurung told the former GTA members: "I have not gone anywhere. I am in my office (at Patlebas).... I am not the one to cross over to Sikkim and Nepal to orchestrate an agitation."
Gurung said Morcha leaders should not be "scared" to take bullets.
He said he too would take part in the protests. "This agitation is also an outburst against the continuous suppression by the state government. We have exploded and now where this will lead her (chief minister Mamata Banerjee) to, only time will tell. To tolerate injustice is also a crime and I too will be on the streets," he said.
TMC switch
Asif Ahmed Ansari, a Trinamul Congress councillor of the Kalimpong municipality, joined the Morcha today.
Trinamul now does not have any elected representative in the civic body.
Earlier this week, Bhim Agarwal, another Trinamul councillor at the municipality, had defected to the Morcha.
Trinamul leaders in the hills, however, sounded unperturbed.
"Such defections are common in a changed political situation. We are confident that once the situation becomes normal, we will regain our support base," a party leader said.

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