Morcha builds on momentum

Darjeeling, Feb. 1: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today decided to hold daily torch rallies across the hills from February 3 to keep up the momentum of the statehood agitation generated during the uproar at Chowrastha in the chief minister's presence.

The decision to intensify the agitation was taken at a meeting of elected members of the GTA Sabha at the Morcha office here. The hill party has now decided that it will not wait till the March 10 Sukna rally to announce the outline of their renewed movement.

The party also decided to extend the ongoing dharna in New Delhi for the creation of Gorkhaland till February 10 and is mulling over holding programmes in Calcutta also.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung was not present at the meeting today.

He has said on January 30 that the future course of the renewed agitation for the separate state would be outlined at a public meeting at Sukna on March 10.

The Morcha announced its "final battle" for statehood in the hills on January 16 after it got information from its sources that the Centre was amenable to the creation of a separate Telangana state.

The Centre has not said anything clearly on Telangana yet.

On January 29, some Morcha supporters chanted slogans of "we want Gorkhaland" when Mamata Banerjee spoke for a united Bengal at the Uttarbanga Utsav.

"Darjeeling is a part of us," she said, infuriating Morcha supporters at Chowrastha.

After today's meeting, Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said: "From Sunday onwards, the party will organise torch rallies in every village, tea garden and constituency of the GTA Sabha to demand Gorkhaland. For almost a fortnight, the youth front of the party has been organising torch rallies in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik on Thursday's."

The Morcha said the dharna in Delhi would continue till February 10, instead of the earlier date of February 5. "Today, Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh also took part in the dharna. We want to keep up the pressure on the Centre to create Gorkhaland if Telangana is formed," Tamang said.

Gurung will hold a meeting with members of various frontal organisation of the Morcha at the party office at Patlasbas in Darjeeling tomorrow to discuss the agitation plan.

"Our party chief will also address Morcha leaders of various units (subdivisional, town and village committees) at Darjeeling Gymkhana Club on February 4," said Tamang.

"The GTA Sabha members felt some programmes demanding Gorkhaland should also be held in Calcutta. We will definitely hold some programmes in Calcutta," he said.

Even though the Morcha has been organising programmes in support of Gorkhaland ever since the Telangana issue came into limelight last month, the fiasco following the chief minister's statement has suddenly injected fresh enthusiasm into the cadres.

"The party is definitely trying to keep the momentum going and today's announcement is a clear indication of that," said an observer.

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