Alliance with TMC was the biggest mistake, says Mamata's former aide Harka Bahadur Chhetri
The former Kalimpong MLA in an exclusive interview with TNIE said that the hill leaders of TMC did not follow Mamata Banerjee’s command in letter and spirit, and worked against Jan Andolan Party.
KALIMPONG: Clearing the doubts about a possible pre or post-poll alliance with Trinamool Congress, Jan Andolan Party (JAP) chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri said that the alliance with Mamata Banerjee’s party was his biggest mistake.
The emerging face of Bengal’s hill politics, JAP has had a tumultuous relation with TMC since Chhetri broke off from Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) over differences with his former associate and GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
He floated his own party in 2016, after which he came in alliance with Mamata Banerjee during the 2016 Assembly elections. However, relations with Banerjee soon soured due to several reasons.
Speaking to the New Indian Express in an exclusive interview at the JAP party office here on Thursday, the former Kalimpong MLA said that the hill leaders of TMC did not follow Mamata Banerjee’s command in letter and spirit, and worked against JAP.
“Without an alliance with TMC, I would have won. So, I did not want to repeat the same mistake this time,” he said.
JAP and GJM are contesting all 23 seats in Kalimpong municipality while TMC has put up candidates in 17 wards of the town.
Asked about the possibility of a post-poll alliance with TMC, Harka Bahadur Chhetri said that Bengal’s ruling party may form an alliance with GJM.
“Enough damage has been done to JAP by TMC. Considering that background, I don’t think we will ally with TMC,” he said.
On GJM making the municipal polls a fight between Bengal and Gorkhaland, Chhetri said: “It is pointless to raise the issue of statehood in the municipal polls. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls is the opportune time,” he added.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri also rubbished the possibility of his party coming together with GJM on the Gorkhaland issue.
“GJM has ruined the demand. I came out of GJM because of their attitude. I will never go with them again,” the former GJM leader said.
The JAP chief also resigned from the post of vice-chairman of the North Bengal Development Council (NBDC) at Kurseong on Wednesday. He was elected by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
“There was no work for me in NBDC. Three months after I was selected as NBDC chairman by Mamata Banerjee, I got an appointment letter from the Governor. However, the list of works to be done were prepared by the district administration without my consultation, which made my post redundant,” the former Kalimpong MLA said.
Speaking on the rise of TMC in the hill districts of West Bengal, Harka Bahadur Chhetri said that the TMC was actually damaging GJM strongholds but struck themselves with derogatory remarks.
“TMC leader Indraneel Sen suddenly comes and says ‘pack GJM leaders and candidates into boxes and send them to other districts’. Such remarks are enough to fuel anger against TMC. The party is on the back foot because of that remark,” he said.
The JAP chief predicted that TMC may come close to board formation in Mirik town which has only 9 wards, and may win a couple of seats in Kurseong. “However, in Darjeeling and Kalimpong towns, TMC does not stand a chance,” Chhetri said.
While TMC has been banking on creating ethnic boards, the JAP supremo agrees that forming ethnic boards and the creation of Kalimpong district will work in the TMC’s favour.
“They were non-existent before. They came through ethnic boards which they called ‘cultural’ but gradually asked the chairpersons of the respective boards to garner their communities’ votes for TMC. So, I agree with GJM that TMC has tried to break the hill people by creating these ethnic boards,” said the JAP chief.