GJM quits BJP-led NDA, to align with TMC

Kolkata: In a major jolt to the BJP ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, the GJM led by fugitive Gorkha leader Bimal Gurung on Wednesday quit the NDA and aligned with TMC, saying the saffron party has “failed to find a permanent solution” for the Hills — which had witnessed major unrest over demand for a separate state in 2017.
The BJP, which is still recovering from the setback it received last month when the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) pulled out of the NDA, said Gurung, who had been on the run since 2017, wanted to return to the Hills and had no option but to toe the line of TMC boss Mamata Banerjee.
The GJM, unlike SAD, has no MPs in Parliament. Making a dramatic public appearance in Kolkata after being on the run for three years following charges of murder and cases under the stringent UAPA, Gurung told reporters the decision to walk out of the 12-year-old alliance with the BJP-led NDA was prompted by the fact that “the party felt cheated by the BJP” which despite its assurances was yet to recognise 11 Gorkha communities as Scheduled Tribes.
“We have been a part of the NDA since 2009, but the BJP-led dispensation hasn’t kept its promise of offering a permanent political solution for the Darjeeling Hills,” he said at the press meet at a hotel here.
“It has not included 11 Gorkha communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes. We feel cheated, so we are walking out of NDA today,” he said.
According to GJM sources, Gurung had been in touch with the ruling TMC over the past one month. “In the 2021 assembly election, we will support the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and fight against the BJP. We would teach the BJP a lesson in Bengal assembly. The chief minister has given her approval for including 11 communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes. Still, the Centre is sitting on the matter,” the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader claimed.
Incidentally, the development came just two days after BJP national president J P Nadda’s visit to north Bengal, where he assured that the saffron party is committed to the permanent political solution of the Hills and the recognition of 11 Gorkha communities as STs.
Asked if he would pursue his demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland after joining TMC, which had earlier dismissed the proposal, Gurung said there was “no going back” on the issue and his outfit would align with the party that supports the cause before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“The demand for Gorkhaland would continue and I will continue to work for it,” he said. Talking about the multiple cases that were slapped on him during the Darjeeling agitation in 2017, Gurung said he is “neither a criminal nor an anti-national”.
“I am a political leader. I want a political settlement. I was in Delhi for three years and in Jharkhand for the past two months,” Gurung, who has been charged in more than 150 cases including those under UAPA for his alleged involvement in the agitation, said.
The GJM supremo, asked if cases against him would be withdrawn, claimed to have received no such assurance from the state government. (PTI)

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