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GJM rules out support to Bhaichung Bhutia

Posted on Mar 06 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, March 6 : The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Thursday ruled out supporting former Indian soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia, nominated by the Trinamool Congress for the Darjeeling seat in West Bengal, saying he was from Sikkim.

"He is from Sikkim. And he is not a politician. Our support will be for a politician. The last time we opted to back BJP candidate Jaswant Singh as he is a seasoned and respected politician," said GJM spokesperson and legislator Harka Bahadur Chhetri.

Echoing Chhetri, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said while his party would not support Bhutia, it was yet to decide on putting up its own candidate or backing the nominee of some other party.

The GJM, which has recently upped the ante for Gorkhaland after the passing of the Telangana bill in parliament, seems to be weighing its options carefully.

While backing a candidate fielded by the Trinamool, which is totally opposed to the creation of a new state of Gorkhaland out of parts of northern West Bengal, would not go down well with the GJM's support base in the hills, the outfit could also risk the wrath of the state government if it opposes Bhutia by pitting its own candidate against the soccer player.

In 2009, Jaswant Singh won with the GJM's support. A few days back, GJM chief Bimal Gurung had praised him - an act which did not escape the notice of political circles.

GJM has been over the past six years spearheading the Gorkhaland movement.

In 2012, the GJM swept the first elections to the hill development body Gorkhaland Territorial Administration that was formed in July, 2011, after the Trinamool came to power.

The GJM then had cosy relations with the Trinamool, which took a beating mid last year when the hill outfit intensified its movement for Gorkhaland and said the GTA had outlived its utility after the central government gave the nod to the creation of Telangana.

The state administration cracked out hard on the GJM, arresting scores of its leaders and supporters, and reopened a number of old cases. Buckling under the pressure, the GJM withdrew its indefinite shutdown and agreed to run the GTA. Gurung, who had quit as GTA chief executive, again took the oath for the post.

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