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5 Mar 2018

Upheaval fear in Hills in case Bimal returns

ASHISH PRADHAN & MANASR BANNERJEE, SNS, SILIGURI, 4 MARCH: Bimal Gurung's successive audio clips urging patience, the comeback hints he has been giving and the confidence he oozes in the Supreme Court pronouncing a verdict in his favour "soon," have left those in the political circles in the feeling jittery. The suspended animation and the suspense that shrouds Hill politics ever since the emergence of Binoy Tamang as the prominent Hill leader have now given way to speculations that the absconding GJMM leader could make a comeback -very soon."
Given such a scenario, people who have been following the Hill situation with a fine-tooth comb ever since the Gorkhaland agitation started in June last year, have been awaiting an " upheaval in Darjeeling politics soon." And if their observations are anything to go by, there will be a direct confrontation between the two camps of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM)- one led by Mr Gurung and the other by Binoy Tainang-if the absconding leader does make a return"
"Fire can't be doused by dumping ash. It will flare up if anyone fans it.The situation in the Hills is not so good, and peace, which has apparently returned, may be disturbed if Bimal Gurung gets some relief from the Supreme Court," an observer associated with the Gorkha National Liberation Front says.
"Confrontation may start between the two camps as they fight for the legal rights of the GJMM party," the observer said, " A section of the people presently in the Binoy camp is there as it has police shelter. Violence charges have been levelled against them too. But these people can change their colour if Bimal returns," he added.
"Though it is very uncertain at present Bimal Gurung may make a comeback to Darjeeling soon. Look at the Holi greetings and the messages he circulated the other day to maintain unity and keep on the spirit of agitation among the people" said CPIM member KB Watter. " People are not in favour of Bimal Gurung too. People are in favour of Gorkhaland, as they ale not happy with the Goorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA)," he added.
"A gang-fight will start between supporters of Bimal and Binoy. The fight, a war of words, will then start among other political parties too. But my observation is that the administration will try as much to stop Bimal from entering the Hills," he added_ "A permanent solution to the Hill issue and peace seems a distant dream for now. Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia's plan to visit the Hills on April is to warm up the wave in the Hills," he said.
Leader of the Communist Party of Revolutionist Marxist (CPRM) Govind Chhetri said his party is worried about the fallout of Mr Gurung's possible return to Darjeeling. "Though we cannot comment on whether the Supreme Court will grant him reprieve as the matter is still subjudice, we do fear a confrontation if Mr Gurung returns to the Hills,- he said." Gurung has shown sincerity so far, and the Hills may see good changes if he remains that way after his return. But if he chooses to deviate from the main agenda of Gorkhaland, we are back to square one," he added. Iterating that the only permanent solution to the Hill problem is a separate state, he said his party was in a wait and watch mode right now.
On a political solution of the Hills GNLF General Secretary Mahindra Chhetri said, "I did not support the GTA, and we still are against it. We believe Sixth Schedule is the only solution for the Hills. We feel that CM Mamata Banerjee is also in favour of the Sixth Schedule status since she has not yet commented against it.'
Hill Trinamul Congress spokesperson Binny Sharma, meanwhile, claimed that it is the BJP that is seeking to foment trouble in the Hills. "This is all the BJP's game- plan, to keep Darjeeling in trouble. It doesn't want peace because the present GTA board under Binoy Tamang, and under the perfect guidance of CM Mamata Banerjee has helped restore peace and harmony and has started to usher in much-needed development. We suspect that the BJP-led Centre can even influence other pillars of democracy," Mr Sharma said.
It maybe mentioned here that Mr Gurung has moved the apex court, challenging the police cases filed against him during the Gorkhaland agitation last year. While the Supreme Court has stayed all "coercive action:' against him, it is yet to pass a final verdict, which, Mr Gurung says, is happening soon.
On the other hand, Mr Tamang, whom the state government has made the chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration board of administrators says that he now has the peoples support. He was not available to comment on the issue.

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