Biman Gurung launches fast against GTA polls

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A day after a senior West Bengal government official announced the date for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) polls, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo, Bimal Gurung on Wednesday launched a fast at Darjeeling against the poll decision.

As per announcement made on Tuesday, the polls for GTA will be conducted on June 26 and the counting will be on June 29.

Gurung, who began his agitation at the Darjeeling crossing, said that he had earlier informed West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee to refrain from GTA polls till a permanent political solution in the hills. He also threatened to go for a fast-unto-death agitation if the state government goes ahead with the polls before reaching a permanent political solution.

In his letter to Banerjee on May 14, Gurung stressed that a bipartite discussion on this count is absolutely necessary to find out ways for the permanent political solution. He also stressed on immediate progress in granting of the scheduled tribe status for the 11 Gorkha sects.

On Wednesday, Gurung said although the Chief Minister assured him that a permanent political solution would be arrived at, the state government announced the poll dates without fulfilling that commitment.

“We neither have any faith in the Union government nor in the state government, since none of them have honoured their commitment to fulfilling Gorkha aspirations. So, I have decided to go for fasting agitation and if necessary, that will extend to fast-unto-death agitation,” he said.

Extending his support to Gurung, BJP state President Dr Sukanta Majumdar said that his party had been saying since the beginning that the GTA polls can never bring about a permanent political solution in the hills. He also said his party is mulling ways to take legal recourse on this issue.

The BJP, the GJM, and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) are opposing the GTA elections. According to them, the elections for GTA would be irrelevant without a permanent political solution in force. However, besides the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the other hill-based political forces like the Hamro Party, the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha, the Jana Andolan Party, and the Bharatiya Gorkha Suraksha Parishad are in favour of immediate GTA polls.

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