BJP's Darjeeling candidate comes out in support of Gorkhaland

Last Updated 19 March 2014, 19:35 IST

The reason behind the shift in allegiance from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to the BJP became apparent as S S Ahluwalia, BJP vice-president and candidate from Darjeeling constituency, extended his support for Gorkhaland. 

While TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has opposed the formation of a separate state, Ahluwalia supported the cause.

“The BJP has always supported creation of smaller states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and has also been in favour of Telangana. So, Gorkhaland should also be formed,” Ahluwalia said. 

Predicting that the next government at the Centre would be one led by the BJP, he said that once in power, they will favourably consider the formation of a separate Gorkhaland.Criticising the ruling TMC government for “harassing” Gorkha Janmukthi Morcha (GJM) leaders, who are being arrested under what it claims to be false cases, Ahluwalia said that while he was not in support of the demand to withdraw the cases, he felt that only GJM leaders are being targeted and ruling party leaders are being spared.

Several GJM leaders have been arrested by the state government on charges of vandalism, arson, rioting and similar cases, most of which were lodged during the 40-day strike in the hills last year.

While Ahluwalia was on his maiden trip to Darjeeling, the day was also marked by the return of Subash Ghising, leader of the Gorkha National League Front (GNLF), which used to be the ruling force before he was ousted by his close aide Bimal Gurung, who is now the president of GJM. 

Ghising claimed on Wednesday that parties were asking for his support to counter Ahluwalia, who is supported by the GJM.

Ghising, who entered the hills after staying away in political exile for nearly six years, said: “Many political parties such as Trinamool and CPM have asked for my support. I haven’t decided anything. The GNLF party leadership will take the final call.” 

Once the unchallenged leader of the hills, he championed the cause of Gorkhaland in the mid-1980s before switching his demand to that for Sixth Schedule status and was forced out from the hills in 2008.

While the Morcha took over the stature that was once enjoyed by the GNLF in the Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas, Ghising’s return right before the polls is being considered a significant move to counter the GJM. 

The GJM has entered into an alliance with the BJP for the polls after it decided not to support the TMC candidate, former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia.

(Published 19 March 2014, 19:35 IST)

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