West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has decided to spend the entire November in Darjeeling. The announcement comes in the midst of a new political equation developing in the hills with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung declaring its tie-up with the ruling Trinamool Congress for the upcoming Assembly elections after severing ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
This is probably for the first time that a governor has decided to stay in the hills for a month. Before his Darjeeling tour, Dhankhar will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on October 29 to brief him about the current situation in Bengal.
Dhankhar, who has been in the headlines ever since taking charge as governor for being at odds with the Trinamool Congress government over various issues, will return to Kolkata on October 30. During his stay at the Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling, he is scheduled to interact with all major stakeholders in the hills.
Responding to Dhankhar’s Darjeeling stay, TMC MP Saugata Roy said the governor is only visiting the hills to enjoy the weather. “He earns a lot and has to justify it. His boss is the Union home minister and it is normal for him to report to him. I don’t think that the governor is a factor here (politically). I think he is visiting Darjeeling to enjoy the weather.”
Last week, Gurung made a surprise appearance in Kolkata following which he held a press conference wherein he announced his party’s exit from the BJP-led NDA for not keeping its promises despite getting his support for more than 10 years.
Absconding for three years for a statehood agitation, the GJM chief’s announcement to support Banerjee for the Assembly elections in 2021 has sent ripples across the hills. “We supported the BJP for 12 years but nothing happened to our Gorkhaland demand despite their assurances. We would like to announce that we am going to support Mamata Banerjee in the upcoming polls. We are not supporting the NDA anymore.”
“We fel the BJP never fulfilled our demand but Banerjee always fulfilled whatever she committed to. In the 2021 Assembly polls, I would like to give a strong message to the BJP. No one from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Amit Shah fulfilled the promise," Gurung said.
Over the years, ‘vulnerable’ political vacuum in north Bengal over various issues, including the demand for Gorkhaland, has been exploited by all the political parties, including the BJP that has seen an exponential rise in the region with the support of tribals, dalits and the Gorkhas.
Of 54 seats in the region (there are a total of 294 Assembly seats in the state), Gurung’s support to the BJP has been a major factor in at least 17 assembly and eight Lok Sabha constituencies. Gurung’s latest announcement seems to have come as a major relief for Banerjee as the Trinamool Congress has lost a lot of ground in the region over the past few years.