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Breaking its alliance with the TMC, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) on Wednesday justified joining hands with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading a bandh in Darjeeling, and said the party has been fighting for a separate Gorkhaland since its inception.
The GNLF, formed by the late firebrand leader Subhash Ghisingh, had led a violent movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties, following which the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed.
Bimal Gurung broke away from the GNLF and formed the GJM in 2007 and subsequently emerged as the dominant force in the hills.
"The GNLF, since its inception in the eighties under the leadership Subhash Ghisingh, has been fighting for Gorkhaland. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a separate state of Gorkhaland," Neraaj Zimba, spokesperson of the GNLF, told PTI.
"The Gorkhas were ditched by the successive state governments. We now feel that the atmosphere in the hills is fully conducive for the creation of a separate state. The GJM is also an ally of the NDA, which is in power at the Centre," he said.
Asked why did the GNLF join hands with the GJM, its sworn enemy in the hills, Zimba said, "It is true that we have our own differences, but for the sake of the people we have decided to keep aside our differences and fight for Gorkhaland."
He said the alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was never a political or ideological one, but an electoral tie-up and the TMC was trying to deflect attention from the real demand of Gorkhaland
through "doles and charity".
Senior GNLF leader N B Chetri said, "Why so many questions are raised over joining hands with the GJM? The TMC on several occasions had joined hands with the BJP and the Congress. In politics such things do happen."
He said, "We won't allow an opportunist political party like the TMC to benefit from the infighting among various parties in the hills."
The GJM's call for Gorkhaland has gained momentum after six other hill parties extended their support to it and unanimously passed a resolution yesterday demanding a separate state.
Apart from the GJM and the GNLF, other players -- Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists and Gorkha Ekta Morcha -- attended yesterday's meeting.
The GJM leadership said, "Small differences should be overlooked for the sake of respecting the people's wish."
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, "It's not about the GJM or the GNLF. If you talk to any resident of the hills, that person will say they want Gorkhaland. So you need to respect the wish of the masses."
Senior TMC minister Gautam Deb criticised the GNLF for severing ties with the TMC and termed them as "opportunists".
"They are opportunists. When they could not fight the GJM on their own, they wanted to get into an alliance with us. Now they are joining hands with the GJM, the people of the hills will give them a befitting reply in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections," Deb said.