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Darjeeling Hills: Bimal Gurung’s return stirs political pot

Pro- and anti-Gurung rallies marked the Gorkha leader’s return from exile

Eastern Times , Kolkata: Bimal Gurung resurfaced on ‘panchami’ (Oct 20). He has declared his willingness to form an alliance with Trinamool Congress. And this has had a ripple effect: processions for and against Bimal Gurung. In the meantime Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Binoy Tamang and Gorkha Territorial Administration chairperson Anit Thapa for a meeting.

How will the Hill districts’ politics play out ahead of 2021 assembly elections? Can Binoy Tamang & Co put pressure on the administration and keep Bimal Gurung on the sidelines? It is in this context that Tuesday’s meeting was significant. After his nearly 45-minute meeting with the CM, Binoy Tamang said the discussion was “very meaningful”.

Earlier on Monday Tamang had said: “There is no place for Bimal Gurung in Hill politics. There is no question of sharing political or administrative platform with him.”

On Tuesday morning Tamang said: “We have an alliance with Trinamool. We are working together. Our only aim is peace and development in the Hills. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is an able politician. We have full faith in her.” Tamang’s post-meeting statement was on similar lines.

However, Bimal Gurung’s return has stirred up Hill politics. On Tuesday too there was a massive anti-Gurung procession. His supporters though took a rally in Mirik. In this simmering political cauldron the administration’s primary task is to maintain peace. And that’s why the hurriedly called meeting with Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa.

There are 15 cases against Bimal Gurung and he has been on the run since 2017. Back then the administration had blamed Gurung for fomenting trouble demanding statehood. His surprise return and the administration’s reluctance to arrest him has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition.

“The Mamata Banerjee government is responsible for disturbing the peace in the Hills. Now they’re unnecessarily inviting trouble,” BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy said on Tuesday.

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