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Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, July 26, 2016: Seventy people from Bimal Gurung’s GTA constituency of Tukvar have switched from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to Trinamul, prompting the state’s ruling party to claim it had caused an “explosion in the capital” of Gorkhaland.

The new Trinamul entrants, none of whom were senior hill party leaders, said their switch was driven by Mamata Banerjee’s development agenda for the hills. Gurung, who heads the Morcha and the GTA Sabha, seemed unruffled by the development.
In political circles, Tukvar is loosely termed as the “capital of Gorkhaland” as the Morcha president comes from there. The 70 who switched from the Morcha to Trinamul are from Limbu Busty in Tukvar.
N.B. Khawas, the spokesman for Trinamul (hills), said: “Seventy people joined our party from the Morcha yesterday evening. This is an explosion in the capital. The hill people will closely follow this development and the message from the induction will be huge. Tukvar has for long controlled the politics of Darjeeling and Limbu Busty has controlled Tukvar.”
Limbu Busty is 12km from Darjeeling town.
The message, according to Khawas, is that people, including those from Gurung’s constituency, are looking for a change in the hills.
Gurung, however, did not sound too bothered about the resignation of the residents of Limbu Busty from the Morcha and said Trinamul’s ploy of making false promises would be exposed.
“Even earlier, some people from Tukvar had joined Trinamul but they are all inactive now. Many people who are into illegal activities are looking for protection and Trinamul is indulging in that kind of politics. After some time, those who have switched to Trinamul will realise the false assurances of the party,” Gurung said today.
Khawas, however, denied the allegations that Trinamul was providing protection to people with dubious credentials in the hills.
“We had a meeting with our party observer, Aroop Biswas, in Calcutta on July 22 and a core committee with 12 members was formed. The committee has been constituted mainly to run the party in a disciplined manner,” said Khawas.
The Trinamul leader said yesterday’s switch had been led by Arpan Rai, who is also the general secretary of the Khambu Rai Youth Association.
“Even the association’s president Manzil Rai from Mount Hermon estate joined Trinamul. Winds of change are blowing in the hills and this is largely because of our leader Mamata Banerjee’s focus on development and positive attitude towards the hills,” said Khawas.
Arpan said the Limbu Busty residents had joined the Morcha for the development of their area.
“The Morcha has turned the cause of Gorkhaland into a begging bowl and the GTA into a bargaining point. The issue is about development now and instead of seeking an indirect development (through the GTA), it is better to seek it directly from the state,” said Arpan.
He alleged that Gurung had stifled democracy in the area and corruption was rampant in the Morcha. “We supported the Morcha for democracy but there is no democracy in our area. He tries to dominate his supporters and functions like a dictator. There has been little development and corruption is now at its peak,” alleged Arpan.
“In 2007, the (erstwhile) DGHC had sanctioned Rs 6.18 crore for the repair of the 19km long Darjeeling-Jorethang (Sikkim) road that falls in our area. Till date, the road has not been repaired. This is the attitude towards our place. We are planning to sow paddy on the road tomorrow,” said Arpan.
Gurung said he had no problems if opposition parties promised development in his area. “I have no problem if the opposition parties want to bring development to our area. They should do so by undertaking development projects in my area and not by merely making promises to construct roads and houses,” he said.
Today, 30 Jana Andolan Party supporters from the Fagu forest village in Gorubathan, Kalimpong, joined the Morcha at its office in Patlebas, Tukvar. Gurung was present at the induction programme.