Kurseong (West Bengal): In a major blow to Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), senior party leader and chairman of the body Pradeep Pradhan along with 11 other leaders joined the ruling Trinamool Congress on Wednesday.
Pradhan alias Bhupendra, a founding member of GJM, joined Trinamool Congress (TMC) at a programme in Kurseong in the presence of TMC's district observer and minister Arup Biswas.
Over a hundred followers also joined the TMC through the day, prompting GJM's student wing Vidyarthi Morcha to launch a relay hunger strike in Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
The GJM leaders and members were welcomed to the TMC by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee, who was speaking to media at Sukna on her way back to Kolkata at the conclusion of her two-day visit to north Bengal, welcomed the GJM leaders and members to the party fold, saying the people in the Hills want development.
She criticised GJM leader and GTA Executive Director Bimal Gurung for threatening armed movement for a separate state and blamed the Centre for giving the support.
Banerjee said the term of the present GTA board had expired four years ago but there has been no election. "He should have resigned much earlier. There is no point in his saying he will quit now," she said.
"If they (GJM) launch the movement, the government will tackle it in accordance with the law," she added.