KALIMPONG: With four municipalities in Bengal's hill districts Darjeeling and Kalimpong — along with three more in the plains —going to the polls on May 14, BJP-ally Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is leaving no stones unturned to fight it out with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its ally Jan Andolan Party (JAP).
The fight seems to be between Gorkhaland and Bengal; GJM posters in Kalimpong town are screaming the same message —it’s a fight between hamro (our) Gorkhaland and Bengal!
Asked if the BJP betrayed GJM by not delivering Gorkhaland even after three years of rule at the Centre, Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) executive member Dr RB Bhujel—one of the most vocal GJM voices in Kalimpong district—said as an alliance partner, GJM will make BJP create Gorkhaland State before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“The work (for Gorkhaland creation) is under process in New Delhi. The West Bengal government is against separation. We have not been betrayed by the BJP. As an alliance partner, we will make them create our State. As of now, we have set a target for 2019,” he said.
Besides harping up on the statehood movement and opposing the imposition of Bengali language on Nepali speakers, the party has prepared an ambitious manifesto —only in Nepali —promising free WiFi, addressing water crisis, LED streetlights and pre-dawn garbage collection in Kalimpong town.
“Kalimpong town reels under severe water crisis. While the State government supplies water from the Neora Valley project, GTA distributes it. Hence, due to parallel functioning, the residents suffer. Hence, we want the complete management of drinking water supply from Kalimpong,” said
GJM has been running Kalimpong municipality for the past five years. It notes modernisation of Kalimpong dumping ground as one of its biggest achievements. “The dumping ground is the first of its kind in north Bengal. We had produced bio-gas and sold to institutions as a pilot project. We want to expand it,” he added. The party also plans to enable garbage pickup before dawn and install WiFi at several places of Kalimpong.
GJM also asserts that Mamata Banerjee’s creation of 17 ethnic boards and making Kalimpong a district won’t benefit the party in elections.
“Only the superintendent of police and district magistrate cannot make up a district. There is no infrastructure for a district. If TMC thinks that it can suppress Gorkhaland movement by creating a district and ethnic boards, it is living in a fool’s paradise. The election results will speak everything,” Dr Bhujel said.