Amitava Banerjee, HT, 31 Jul 2016, DARJEELING: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung’s threat to resurrect the Gorkhaland agitation is being seen as an attempt by him to plug the steady erosion of his support base. Opposition parties have been making steady inroads in Hills politics.
Gurung recently had given the call for a final battle for Gorkhaland asking people to make the supreme sacrifice for statehood. The GJM president had stated that he is ready to face bullets for the Gorkha community and Gorkhaland.
Political observers feel that Gurung is trying to boost the already sagging morale of his party with the call for an agitation. It is very important for Gurung to rejuvenate the GJM and check the steady advance of the TMC, GNLF and JAP before the municipal polls.
In the Hills where the demand of Gorkhaland occupies centre stage, the call for another agitation is more of a political compulsion for Gurung in order to keep his support base intact, feel political pundits. Off late the GJM and the frontal organisations have been witnessing mutiny in the rank and files. 62 teachers of its frontal organisation Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JISTO) had broken away and floated the Hill Secondary Temporary Teachers’ Organisation (HSTTO) in mid July.
Though HSTTO claims that it is an apolitical organisation, observers feel they enjoy the tacit support of the TMC. Recently 20 members from JISTO broke away and joined HSTTO in the Kalimpong subdivision.
“Many more from the JISSTO from Kurseong and Darjeeling are scheduled to join the HSTTO soon. We have requested chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s intervention requesting her to regularise the adhoc teachers working in the schools under the GTA. However, we will fight for our members alone and not for JISTO as they have their own organization,” said Roshan Chettri, convenor, HSTTO.
Trouble started brewing with the GJM unilaterally declaring the sudden dissolution of JISTO Movement Committee on July 8. No reasons were stated for the sudden dissolution. More than 500 adhoc teachers have been agitating for the past one year demanding immediate regularisation under the aegis of JISTO.
Though the GISTO is a frontal organisation of the GJM, a section had been blaming the lackadaisical attitude of the GJM led GTA for not doing enough to resolve this impasse. The dissolution of the movement committee finally led to the floating of HSTTO by dissident leaders and supporters.
Closer home on July 26, 70 GJM supporters from Gurung’s own Tukvar GTA constituency crossed over to the TMC. Tukvar is considered a GJM bastion and Gurung resides in the area. The people crossing over declared that they had full faith in Mamata Banerjee’s development agenda hence they had preferred to cross over. The TMC was quick to dub it, “winds of change blowing in the Hills.”