Gurung rediscovers sibling bonds – Hill leader calls on ‘brother’ Chamling

The Telegraph

Gangtok/Darjeeling, March 2: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung had a face-to-face interaction with Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling in Gangtok today, the first meeting between the two after the party was formed in 2007.

Although Gurung asserted that he had met the chief minister on the invitation of the latter, political observers feel that it was a bid to smoothen ruffled feathers after relationship between the Morcha and Sikkim had hit the nadir over the frequent closure of NH 31A during strikes in the hills.

NH31A is the only road that connects the Himalayan state with the rest of the country.

“We had come to meet the Sikkim chief minister on his invitation. It is a courtesy call as we want the blood relationship shared by the people of Sikkim and Darjeeling to remain as it is. There were some elements, which had tried to spoil this brotherhood in the past. We also wanted an understanding on how Sikkim should not be affected during our movement and how our movement should not be affected from the Sikkim side,” said the Morcha chief.

Even though the details of the two-hour meeting at Chamling’s Mintokgang residence were not immediately known, it is very clear that the tete-a-tete was to improve the understanding between the two leaders.

This is not the first time that Gurung had made an attempt to meet Chamling. In August, 2008, during a visit to Gangtok to attend a spiritual meet, Gurung had publicly appealed to his “elder brother, Dr Pawan Chamling” to lend a few words of support for his “neglected younger brother”. However, he was not successful in meeting Chamling then.

But many observers in Darjeeling believe Chamling had discreetly supported Gurung by lending his voice in favour of Prashant Tamang who was vying for the Indian Idol. Even before the Morcha was formed on October 10, 2007, Prashant’s victory found people shout slogans praising both the leaders.

The relationship between the two soured when a Sikkim resident, O.P. Bhandari, filed a case in the Supreme Court in 2008 complaining about frequent blockades on NH31A during Morcha-sponsored strikes and counter shutdowns called by other parties. Although Bhandari filed the case as an individual, the Morcha believed that he had the tacit support of Chamling.

Fast withdrawn

Three Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha members on Wednesday withdrew their indefinite fast at Bagrakote in the Dooars. The 19-day-long hunger strike to press for a CBI probe into the Sibchu police firing was called off as the Morcha found that the state government could not recommend the investigation by the central agency as the model code of conduct came into force.

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