Bimal Gurung set to return to Hills after one-and-half years
Kolkata: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung, who has been on the run for the past one -and-half years, is likely to return to the Hills Thursday evening, a day after the Supreme Court asked him and his aide Roshan Giri to move the Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail in connection with the cases lodged against them.
Loksang Lama, the working president of GJM's Gurung faction, said the Morcha leader, who is scheduled to arrive at Bagdogra airport at 1.30pm, will head straight to the Hills.
"Our leader will leave for the Hills as soon as he lands at Bagdogra airport," he said.
According to poll analysts, Gurung's return to the Hills is likely to change the course of election in Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency and swing votes in favour of BJP candidate Raju Singh Bista.
Both Gurung and Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) have extended their support to Bista, while the Binay Tamang-led faction of the Morcha have decided to back Trinamool Congress candidate Amar Singh Rai.
A 104-day-long strike in the Hills over a separate statehood demand had led to the spilt in the GJM last year, with Tamang, Gurung's deputy, taking over the reins of the party.
He expelled Gurung and his loyalists soon after and established himself as the defacto leader of the Hills with the help of the ruling TMC.
When contacted, Gurung told PTI that the people in the Hills were eagerly waiting to have him back.
"I can't wait to return to Darjeeling. Once I am there, I will do everything to ensure the victory of BJP candidate Bista. The people of the Hills have rejected traitors like Tamang and Rai," he said.
Maintaining that he was still the supremo of the GJM and "commands respect and love" of the people of the Hills, Gurung said, "Tamang and his group are agents of the TMC".
Tamang, when contacted, claimed that the people of the Hills no longer favour Gurung and his "politics of violence".
The Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, which is presently held by the BJP, is poised for a prestige fight between the TMC and the saffron party.
For the first time in over three decades, the two parties are looking beyond the statehood demand as they stress on the need to restore democracy in the Hills.