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GNLF extends support to Bhaichung Bhutia, GJM cries foul

Posted on Apr 04 2014 | IANS

Darjeeling, April 4 : In a boost to Trinamool Congress' candidate Bhaichung Bhutia's prospects for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, the GNLF Friday announced its support for the former Indian soccer captain. The GJM termed the development an "unholy nexus" between its rival and the ruling party.

"Bhaichung belongs to the hills. We are supporting him," the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) said in statement issued on behalf of party president Subhas Ghising.

Bhutia is engaged in a tough fight for the April 17 polls in the constituency against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-backed Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Surinder Singh Ahluwalia and Communist Party of India-Marxists' (CPI-M) Saman Pathak.

The GNLF spearheaded a violent movement in the 1980s, demanding that a separate state of Gorkhaland be carved out of the north Bengal hills, leading to the formation of the semi-autonomous development body, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), in 1988.

Ghising was the chairman of the DGHC for two decades. However, he lost his influence in the hills after his trusted aide Bimal Gurung broke away from the GNLF in 2007 to form the GJM, which has now taken over the mantle of the Gorkhaland movement.

The GJM forced Ghising to leave the hills in 2008. He returned before the 2011 assembly polls but went away again soon after his party received a drubbing in the polls.

Describing the coming together of the GNLF and Trinamool as an "unholy nexus", GJM chief Gurung accused the Mamata Banerjee led party of bringing in Ghising to "defeat the cause for Gorkhaland".

"The man who spearheaded violent agitation for Gorkhaland in the late eighties, has decided to go with an anti-Gorkhaland party in the hills. The GNLF was never been sincere towards Gorkhaland and today they have proved it

"The Trinamool has brought Subhas Ghising to the hills to defeat our cause for Gorkhaland," Gurung said on his official Facebook page.

Gurung also attacked the GNLF for seeking revival of the DGHC - the predecessor of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) - the GJM administered autonomous hill council.

"The GNLF has demanded for DGHC. This means there would be political change in the hills. The DGHC will take us 30 years backwards. I challenge Subhas Ghising on a debate on the powers of DGHC and GTA. It has fewer departments and less powers but Ghising still wants DGHC," added Gurung.

Ghising recently returned to the hills for the Lok Sabha polls. There was much speculation on whether he would put up a candidate or announce his support for some other party.

Trinamool leader and West Bengal cabinet minister Gautam Deb welcomed the GNLF's move.

"Bhaichung will win by a huge margin," he said.

On the other hand, the CPI-M said Ghising was the latest pawn in the Trinamool's "use and throw" policy.

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