Darjeeling, June 24: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today welcomed the return of Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh to the BJP, hoping the move will provide fresh impetus to its statehood demand at the national level.
“We are happy with the BJP’s decision and we welcome it. We would like to thank the senior leaders of the BJP, including president Nitin Gadkari, for the decision,” Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said.
Although the BJP had backed the Morcha even after Singh’s expulsion, the hill outfit believes that the Darjeeling MP’s return would help its cause. “It will definitely help our movement,” said Giri.
After Singh’s expulsion, BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj and Rajiv Pratap Rudy had publicly supported the statehood demand of the Morcha. But Bimal Gurung’s party thinks that the leaders were not as actively involved, as it would have liked them to be.
“With Jaswant Singh back in the main Opposition party, his influence will be stronger. Even when he was expelled from the party, Singh’s stature in Delhi had helped us a lot,” said a Morcha leader.
Locally, too, the Morcha is expected to gain from Singh’s inclusion in the BJP. This is largely because Dawa Sherpa, the state secretary of the BJP, is in the forefront of an anti-Morcha forum of seven parties in the hills — the Democratic Front — and has been appointed its convener.
Earlier this month, the CPRM, one of the front members, had demanded that the BJP explain its stand on the Morcha especially since Singh’s return was imminent. Sherpa had at that time said it was too early to say anything as Singh had not yet returned to the BJP. “The entire issue is speculative … Other parties can interpret our stand based on the BJP’s role in the Democratic Front and the statements made by us in public,” Sherpa had then said.
Today, after Singh’s return to the BJP, Sherpa refused comment.