Darjeeling: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the movement for a separate Gorkhaland state, is fighting the assembly elections in West Bengal, but its lawmakers will resign once they get elected, a senior party leader says. The GJM feels the victory of its candidates will give a boost to the statehood movement.
"GJM`s target is not to participate in the West Bengal assembly proceedings, but to have a separate state carved out from the northern part of the state, including Darjeeling Hills.
"We have decided to resign as MLAs after we are elected. We have already informed the president of India about our decision,` GJM spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said.
Chhetri, who is contesting from the Kalimpong assembly constituency, in Darjeeling Hills, said the GJM decided to participate in the elections for the sake of the Gorkhaland movement.
"While exploring all possibilities, we felt that if we do not participate in the polls, any one from our opponent side - GNLF (Gorkha National Liberation Front) or ABGL (Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League) will be elected, and the government will recognise them as the voice of the hill people which will undermine our movement. This time we don`t want to deceive our people," Chhetri said.
Unlike other political parties, GJM is not campaigning on the plank of providing basic amenities and setting up infrastructure in the Darjeeling Hills, but on the issue of proper demarcation of Gorkha majority areas.
"We want to demarcate the areas where Gorkhas are in majority. I do admit that Darjeeling Hills lacks infrastructure and supply of basic amenities, but all these issues would be taken care of once we get our separate state," said the GJM spokesperson.
The GJM is confident of winning all three seats - Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling - in Darjeeling Hills.
"We are with the people. As the hill people know we are fighting the atrocities of the state government they are also extending full support to us," said Chhetri.
Reacting to the allegation that the GJM was not allowing any other organisation to hold rallies or meetings in Darjeeling Hills, Chhetri said: "If they have no support base and did not come here to campaign, then what can the GJM do?
"Are you suggesting that we should lend them our supporters to campaign here?" he shot back.
The GJM spokesperson denied that the party`s stand of providing support to a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Madarihat constituency in Jalpaiguri district and extending support to Congress and Trinamool Congress alliance candidates in other north Bengal constituencies was contradictory.
"We have decided to support whosoever is useful in raising our demand. The BJP is the only one to raise our demand at the national level; so as a matter of gratitude we have decided to support them for the Madarihat seat, while in other constituencies we would extend our support to the Trinamool and the Congress with only one objective - to end the Marxist dictatorship."
Asked whether supporting the BJP`s Jaswant Singh from Darjeeling in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls has paid any dividends, he said: "The BJP is not in power. If they were in power we would have expected them to do the needful. We have not supported them on basis of any ideology."
"They are the BJP and we are the GJM. We supported them for raising our demand at the national level and they raised the issue in parliament," said Chhetri.
On the issue of merging Darjeeling Hills with Sikkim after the recent resolution passed by the Sikkim assembly supporting the cause of Gorkhaland, he said: "We want a separate Gorkha state of our own. But we are thankful to them for extending support to our cause."
Apprehending that a free and fair election won`t be conducted, Chhetri said: "There is every possibility. The Left Front can manipulate the election process with the help of officials. We are well aware of that and will keep a close watch on the poll process."