Gurung to ‘quit’ GTA, revive Gorkhaland stir

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today said he would step down from the post of chief executive of the Gorkha Territorial Administration in a few days.

Gurung made the announcement at a workers' meet in Darjeeling, which was attended by important party functionaries and all GJM and GTA sub-committee members.

If he steps down, Darjeeling could face another round of agitations and turmoil sooner rather than later.

The announcement comes on the heels of a virtual standoff between the GJM leadership and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the latter's visit to Darjeeling last week. At a public meeting, Mamata had announced that Darjeeling would always remain an integral part of West Bengal. There were immediate protests and slogan shouting after the announcement, which forced the chief minister to walk out of the meeting in haste.

The development has not been very encouraging as the GJM leadership held that they were ready to sacrifice anything for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Gurung himself had announced that his post as chief executive of the GTA was not a "permanent one." Gurung also accused Mamata of trying to "divide and rule" when she suggested a separate council for Lepcha and Buddhist communities in the hills. He warned that the agitation in Darjeeling may not remain peaceful and that the GJM cadres were ready to take bullets.

At the GJM meet today, Gurung once again held the state government responsible for his "final" decision. He said, "I will resign from the post of chief executive of the GTA in a few days. I am not legally bound to the GTA as I did not sign the tripartite agreement. I am coming back to the Gorkhaland movement and I will make our people's ultimate aspiration a success. However, the rest of the 44 members of the GTA are not withdrawing immediately. But they will also quit the GTA soon if it is needed."

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