Gurung eyes new party for alliance – To join hands (or not) for a new state Morcha fuels tribal split for Dooars entry

The Telegraph

July 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is now hoping to divide the Adivasis with the help of the newly formed Progressive People’s Party and push ahead with its movement for a new state.

The attempt comes after the Morcha failure to stitch up an alliance with the Terai-Dooars regional committee of the Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Earlier, party president Bimal Gurung had re-christened Gorkhaland — the new state it is clamouring for — as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh to woo the tribals. But that failed.

Now, the Morcha hopes to take advantage of the fact that the PPP consists of suspended and breakaway leaders of the Parishad who are in favour of a joint movement with the hill party, and gain a foothold in the tribal dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai.

“This new development will allow the Morcha to make a backdoor entry to a region where it has failed to make major inroads despite repeated attempts,” a Morcha leader said.

The PPP was formed on Sunday after the Parishad’s organising secretary in the Dooars, Raju Bara, and senior party leader Kiran Kumar Kalindi were suspended for “indiscipline”: they had expressed their willingness to talk to the Morcha on the creation of Gorkha Adivasi Parishad.

Samuel Gurung, the organising secretary of the Morcha in the Dooars and Terai, said today: “The formation of the PPP is definitely an indication that the Adivasis have also started an exercise to carve an entity outside of Bengal. We are closely observing the development in the plains and we are willing to work with any party which espouses the cause of separation from Bengal.”

However on a different note, he said: “Leaders breaking away from the Parishad to form the PPP is an internal matter of the outfit. The Morcha would not want to interfere or comment on the development at the moment.”

The Morcha had earlier been hoping to launch a joint movement with the Dooars-Terai regional committee of the Parishad which is the principal outfit representing the tribals in the region. The president of the committee, John Barla, had even written to the Morcha in May saying that he had no objection to discussing a joint movement for statehood.

However, after this, Barla did not take matters forward and now appears to be following the state leadership’s line that the Parishad would have no truck with the hill outfit.

In the past, all attempts by the Morcha to find a toehold in the Dooars had faced resistance largely because of the Parishad’s strong opposition. In fact, there had been frequent clashes between the Gorkhas and Adivasis living in the Dooars. However, sources in the Morcha said the party would now try to cosy up to the PPP and garner Adivasi support for their cause of a separate state.

“If this move proves to be a success, then the Morcha can even use it as a bargaining tool at the tripartite talks or at a later stage, whenever the issue of territorial jurisdiction of the interim authority for the hills comes up,” a Morcha source said.

In fact, the Dooars-Terai Nagarik Manch, a conglomerate of 17 apolitical organisations in the region, has accused the PPP of being a front for the Morcha.

“The Morcha is using the PPP leaders to divide the Adivasis,” alleged Larry Bose, the Manch’s president. “We see no difference between the PPP and the Morcha.”

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