Jolt to GJM as another legislator quits party

Kolkata, Sep 21 (IANS) Slamming his party leadership for ‘burning the bridges’ with the West Bengal government, GJM legislator Trilok Kumar Dewan on Monday quit the party, giving another jolt to the outfit which has threatened to revive the separatist movement in the Darjeeling hills.

The quitting of Dewan, who represented the Darjeeling constituency in the assembly, comes days after Kalimpong legislator Harka Bahadur Chettri left the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Friday blaming the “autocratic” attitude of the party leadership.

Accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government of “interfering” and “non-cooperation” in the affairs of the autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) governing the Darjeeling hills, the GJM had announced that its three legislators — Chettri, Dewan and Rohit Sharma — would resign from the assembly in protest.

GTA chairperson and GJM supremo Bimal Gurung had charged the ruling Trinamool Congress with pursuing a ‘divide and rule’ policy and threatened to revive agitations for its demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland — to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.

But both Chettri and Dewan have accused the GJM leadership of unilaterally taking the decision on the resignation of the legislators.

“We are elected representatives of the people and part of the state government. But I am sorry to say that instead of building more and more bridges, we are burning the existing ones. This is very, very dangerous for the people of Darjeeling,” Dewan told media persons at the state assembly premises here after tendering his resignation as a legislator.

“I am resigning from the party from today (Monday). I have also tendered my resignation of the seat in the house,” said Dewan, but refused to comment on whether he would be joining any other party.

However, reiterating the GJM’s stand of interference by the Mamata Banerjee government, Kurseong MLA Sharma resigned from the assembly.

“The chief minister keeps on saying ‘Darjeeling is smiling’. If it is so, then why our voice is being trampled? Why is this government pursuing a divide and rule policy?” Sharma said, asserting that the GJM will not deviate from its “long standing demand of Gorkhaland”.

While there has been speculation that Chettri may join the Trinamool, the Gorkha leader who has decided to work as an independent legislator, declined to make any comments on that.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the party was yet to receive a formal communication about the legislators’ resignations.

“We have not yet received any formal communication of resignation either from Dewan or Chettri. We can comment on the issue only after we get that,” Giri told IANS.

Trinamool Congress leader and North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb said both Chettri and Dewan were welcome to join the party.

“Since it’s a matter concerning another party, I am not supposed to make a comment. But both Chettri and Dewan are able legislators and administrators. If they wish to join the Trinamool, they are welcome,” said Deb.

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