Alleging that the BJP has failed to keep its promises made to the people of Darjeeling hills, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung on Sunday demanded the resignation of the saffron party's local MP Raju Bista. Gurung, who had left the hills during a violent Gorkhaland statehood agitation in 2017, re-emerged in Kolkata in October, snapping decade-old ties with the BJP and vowing to support Mamata Banerjee-led TMC in the West Bengal assembly elections due in April-May next year.
"Even though we supported the BJP in previous elections, the party failed to keep its promises," Gurung said at a rally organised here by the GJM faction that he leads. Accusing the BJP of never clarifying its position on the Gorkhaland issue, he demanded the resignation of Darjeeling MP Raju Bista.
Gurung reached Siliguri, the gateway to the Darjeeling hills, after almost three-and-half years, on Sunday afternoon to address a public meeting at Indira Gandhi Maidan, organised to welcome him and other party workers who went into hiding after the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation. Gurung, whose GJM had supported the BJP earlier, accused the saffron party of being indifferent to the aspirations of the hill people and asked his supporters to root for the TMC in the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal.
Accusing Anit Thapa and Binay Tamang, the leaders of the breakaway faction of the GJM, of corruption, Gurung said that he will soon hold rallies and meetings across Darjeeling hills, Terai, and Dooars region. The hills have suffered long spates of agitation over the statehood demand, the first of which was led by the then Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghising.
The reigns of the agitation were later taken over by Ghising's one-time protg and later bete noire Gurung, who broke away from the GNLF to form the GJM. On June 8, 2017, protests were held by the undivided GJM in Darjeeling as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a state cabinet meeting, alleging that the state government was trying to impose the Bengali language on the Nepali-speaking Gorkhas through its education policy.
Darjeeling simmered in tension as an indefinite shutdown called by Gurung-led GJM continued for 104 days amid sporadic violence in various places in the hills during the period. The prolonged shutdown caused fissures within the GJM leadership and also cost it support from other hill parties, helping Banerjee to seize the opportunity to quell the protests.
Gurung and his close associate Roshan Giri left the hills as Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa emerged as the new faces of GJM, which split into two factions.