One of Bimal Gurung’s most trusted lieutenants on Thursday joined the Binay Tamang camp of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, whose members said the party chief’s wife could soon be removed as the women’s wing president.
Jyoti Kumar Rai, the assistant secretary of the Morcha and a former GTA Sabha member, was an important cog in the Gurung wheel and was among his most trusted lieutenants who would be entrusted with overseeing important matters such as legal cases.
“I have decided to join the Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa camp as I do not believe in a violent agitation. I support a democratic movement. The agitation since June was violent and it is because of the violence that leaders, too, could not come out on the streets,” Rai said.
He echoed what is being seen as the general sentiment in the hills – that the BJP had “betrayed” the local people on the statehood issue.
“The BJP and its government have betrayed the hill people. The people had pinned their hopes on the BJP, but even during the 104-day strike, the BJP government did not utter a single word (on statehood) even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about the dream of the Gorkhas,” said Rai.
The leader was referring to Modi’s speech near Siliguri while campaigning for Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia during the last parliamentary elections.
In less than a week, three central committee leaders perceived to be once close to Gurung have joined the Tamang lobby, including Dawa Lama, the treasurer of the party, and Diwakar Gurung, an organising secretary.
None from the Gurung camp of the Morcha could be contacted for a reaction on the recent switchovers.
Amid the steady flow of party leaders to the Tamang camp, the Nari Morcha on Thursday opened its central committee office at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling.
The Morcha’s central committee office at Singamari was sealed and taken over by the district administration recently after an inquiry revealed that the property had come up on government land. The building housed the women’s wing office, too.
Dinesh Gurung, a core committee member allegiant to the Tamang camp, said: “The Nari Morcha leaders don’t know how Asha Gurung (Bimal Gurung‘s wife) was appointed the chief of the women’s wing. That is why during the shuffle, she is unlikely to be included in the wing.”
Sources said Asha had never been given any official designation of the Nari Morcha president but had been functioning as one. While she called the shots, the women’s wing did not appoint any chief in particular.
The sources said the women’s wing was likely to be shuffled on November 19.