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Tough road ahead for Bimal Gurung & his men in the Hills

Tough road ahead for Bimal Gurung & his men in the Hills
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DARJEELING: After the dismal performance of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal), it is going to be an uphill task for rebel Gorkha leader Bimal Gurung and his men to regain a political foothold in the Hills.

Gurung and his party's future now depends on the political space that Trinamool Congress will provide him or how the GJM (Bimal) will be accommodated.

Having severed ties with the BJP publicly, it will not be an easy task for Gurung to look for relief from the saffron brigade.

The GNLF, an ally of the BJP, will not allow this to happen in a bid to secure their own political future towing the BJP line.

Interestingly Gurung, who had fueled a violent agitation in 2017, had been absconding from the Hills since September 2017.

However, he suddenly surfaced in Kolkata on October 21, 2020, thereby declaring support to the Trinamool Congress, severing ties with long time ally BJP.

Gurung had then stated that the BJP had used him along with the Gorkhas to get a political foothold in Bengal.

Riding piggyback on the Gorkhaland demand, the BJP had managed to win elections in Bengal time and again from the Hills.

He alleged that after being re-elected to power in 2019 the BJP-led Union government resolved the Kashmir issue and the Ram Mandir issue but did not fulfill their assurances to include 11 Gorkha sub-communities in the Scheduled Tribe list along with a permanent political solution for the Gorkhas.

Gurung announced that the GJM (Bimal) would campaign for the TMC and would ensure the TMC's victory in 16 Assembly seats in Terai and Dooars.

The GJM (Bimal faction) also fielded candidates in the three Hill seats, including Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

Along with losing in all the three Hill seats, Gurung failed to deliver in both Terai and Dooars.

Though he had campaigned for the TMC in Terai and Dooars, the TMC lost in all the seats where Gurung had claimed to have a sway.

Political observers opine Gurung earlier had an influence in Kumargram, Kalchini, Madarihat and Matigarah-Naxalbari seats of Terai, Dooars.

However, this time the BJP secured victory in all these seats.

Had the TMC not managed to secure a large number of seats in South Bengal thereby securing a landslide victory, they would have been in a tight spot owing to the dismal performance in the seats where Gurung had assured comfortable wins.

Even in the Hills, Gurung's party trailed behind the BJP and the GJM (Binoy faction). In Darjeeling, GJM's (Bimal) vote share was 22 per cent of the total votes polled; in Kurseong it was 18.8 per cent. In Kalimpong, it was 22 per cent.

"We accept our defeat in this Assembly election and will use this as a lesson for constructing a bright future for the Gorkha community. We will take all well wishers along with us in our journey forward."

"Somewhere deep down, people who are celebrating victory in the Hills, might feel that the community has been defeated and let down," Gurung said.

Both the GJM (Binoy) and the GNLF (an ally of the BJP) were quick to write off Gurung as a spent force.

"The result of the Assembly elections rings in the end of destructive politics in the Hills henceforth," said Anit Thapa, general secretary, GJM (Binoy).

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