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27 Jun 2017

TMC supporters join GNLF

Trinamul supporters who joined the GNLF at Mungpoo on Monday.
Picture by Passang Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 26: Trinamul's loss has become the Gorkha National Liberation Front's gain as many supporters of the ruling party have started joining the GNLF, providing a fresh lease of life to the hill party.
Trinamul leaders admitted that their organisation was in tatters in the hills and said they could do little but wait for peace to return to start afresh.
In the past few days, nearly 1,500 Trinamul supporters from Dooteray and Kaley Valley tea gardens in Sonada, Pokhriabong, Panighatta, Mungpoo, Sitong and Selphu left Trinamul and joined the GNLF.
A supporter who joined the GNLF, along with 95 families at Selphu today, said: "We are not joining the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha as we had earlier switched to Trinamul because of differences with the Morcha leadership. Now, their attitude towards us has also changed. This is why we are joining the GNLF."
Many believe the Trinamul members are more comfortable joining the GNLF as the party, too, has hit the street on the Gorkhaland issue, setting aside its demand for incorporating the Darjeeling hills within the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
"The entire hills have been caught in the Gorkhaland emotion and had the GNLF not kept its Sixth Schedule demand aside now, they would not have received this support," said an observer
This is, however, not to say that all Trinamul supporters are joining GNLF. Many Trinamul supporters have joined the Morcha also.
Neeraj Zimba, the spokesman for the GNLF, said: "It is true that many Trinamul supporters are joining the GNLF. This is for a political shelter. We, however, want people to join us not just for political shelter but after understating the party's ideology. Nevertheless, we welcome them to our fold."
Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul (hills), admitted that the organisation was in a state of disarray in the hills with the launch of the fresh statehood movement.
"In this andolan, it seems it is not enough for our supporters to remain quietly. They are being asked to join one party or another. Our organisation is in tatters and we can say nothing as they, too, need safety ."
Mukhia said at the moment, the party could only hope for peace.
"Things are getting ugly not just in the hills but also in the plains. We hope good sense will prevail and this would not turn into an unwanted showdown. "
"Regarding the party, we will start rebuilding again once there is peace all around," said Mukhia.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, also admitted that many Trinamul supporters were joining the GNLF. "This is probably because they were in an alliance earlier," said Giri.
The GNLF had supported Trinamul in the last Lok Sabha, Assembly and civic elections.
However, after the recent phase of the statehood agitation, the GNLF has attended all-party meetings called by the Morcha on the issue of statehood and expressed its willingness to accept Bimal Gurung's leadership for this movement, provided he did not betray the cause.

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