Darjeeling strike withdrawn for 12 days

Tamang in, Gurung out?

Darjeeling: In a major turn of events, the central committee of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) here on Thursday temporarily withdrew the total shutdown in Darjeeling hills for 12 days, beginning tomorrow till 12 September, responding to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s request to bring normalcy back to the hills at the earliest.

Announcing the temporary withdrawal of bandh till the next all-party meet convened by the West Bengal government scheduled to be held at Uttar Kanya in Siliguri, GJM chief coordinator Binay Tamang told a news conference here this evening that, with this withdrawal, they had taken the first step towards resolving the main issue in favour of the Gorkhaland State. He said it was now up to the Banerjee government to decide on their one-point demand for a separate state.

Interestingly, GJM head Bimal Gurung was not present at the party’s all important central committee meeting and at the subsequent news conference which was addressed by Tamang. Accordingly, political observers here saw the emergence of a new leader of the Gorkhaland movement that, until recently, was guided by none other than Gurung and his deputy and party general secretary Roshan Giri. Both of them have apparently become powerless and gone into oblivion.

During the all-party meet in Kolkata last Tuesday, the chief minister had repeatedly requested all Gorkhaland leaders to first withdraw the total bandh, which had entered the 80th day on Thursday, before restarting a meaningful dialogue to arrive at an acceptable solution to the Gorkhaland issue. She had, however, also made it clear to all participants that, under her constitutional obligations, she could not agree to the demand for a separate State, but the negotiations must continue.

Accordingly, Tamang addressed a massive rally on his return to Kurseong this afternoon where he explained his views about the meeting before heading for the central committee meeting to decide on the future course of action. His rather unexpected announcement to withdraw the bandh conditionally and temporarily — amidst a huge public support and until the next all-party meet — is also seen as a new pressure tactic he is applying to the State authorities.