Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung, on the run since 2017 following an agitation for statehood in Darjeeling, was on Wednesday spotted outside Gorkha Bhavan in Salt Lake area in Kolkata on Wednesday. The police, which was also present at the venue, did not arrest Gurung, who has been charged with more than 150 cases, including those under UAPA, for his alleged involvement in the agitation three years ago.
This is for the first time Gurung came out in the open following the Darjeeling unrest in 2017. He had been hiding since then to evade arrest.
Speaking to the media, Gurung said his outfit has decided to walk out of the NDA, as the BJP-led dispensation "failed to find a permanent political solution" for the Hills. Gurung, flanked by close aide Roshan Giri, rued that the central government was yet fulfil its promise of recognising 11 Gorkha communities as Scheduled Tribes.
He vowed to support the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC in its fight against the BJP in the 2021 Bengal Assembly elections.
"All I want to say is that our demand for Gorkhaland still remains, we will take this cause forward. It is our aim, our vision. In the 2024 election, we will support the party which will take up this cause," he said.
He further announced that he was allying with the Trinamool Congress ahead of the 2021 Bengal assembly election.
"Centre didn't meet the commitment they made but Mamata Banerjee fulfilled all promises she made. So, I would like to separate myself from NDA, I would like to break our relation with BJP. In 2021 Bengal election we'll forge an alliance with TMC & give a reply to BJP," he added.
Between July and September 2017, the Darjeeling hills suffered a 104-day record general shutdown called by Gurung demanding a separate Gorkhaland. During the agitation, 13 persons, including two policemen, died.