Academic Mahendra P Lama is contesting the Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate in the Darjeeling constituency under the banner of the DDUDF.
In a press release issued here today, Mr Lama has instead appealed to the GJMM chief to support him in the upcoming polls.
In his Facebook page, Mr Gurung yesterday appealed to Mr Lama to support the GJMM-backed BJP candidate for a greater cause of Gorkhaland and to hold talks with him on the matter.
“Considering the swelling support and overwhelming response to the candidature of Prof Lama all across the hills and the plains and the latest turn of political events, the DDUDF instead requests the GJMM leadership to support the independent candidature of Prof Lama.
“This support should be unconditional and must be in writing,” the press release signed by DDUDF spokesperson P Arjun said.
In the Facebook post, Mr Gurung had said that this year’s Lok Sabha election is clearly divided between those who are supporting Gorkhaland and those against it.
“The BJP is expected to come to power (at the Centre) and they have already decided to support our cause,” he had said.
Mr Arjun, however, said: “Since the GJMM, on several occasions, has taken a very suspicious stand on the most vital and critical issue of a separate state of Gorkhaland, the DDUDF feels that the GJMM lacks clarity and has been all along maintaining an ambiguous stand on the statehood issue.”
According to sources, the DDUDF has put forth some preconditions for Mr Lama to hold talks with Mr Gurung.
“The GJMM will withdraw the support extended to BJP and its candidate for the Darjeeling parliamentary constituency before the filing of nominations and the agenda for the meeting and talks with the GJMM will be decided beforehand and made public,” the DDUDF press release said.
Lama snubs Gurung: ‘He has sold statehood cause’
Lama has reportedly started an extensive campaign against Gurung in the region and the Morcha has reasons to be apprehensive.
Gorkha Janmukti Mocha chief Bimal Gurung came in for scathing criticism from former vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, who is an Independent candidate in Darjeeling, Mahendra P Lama.
Responding to Gurung’s appeal to him to join hands with the GJM and support BJP candidate SS Ahluwalia in Darjeeling, Lama said the GJM chief has “sold out the Gorkhaland cause”. “Gurung sold out the Gorkhaland cause long time ago. He is exposed now. Which is why he wants to get support from me to make the BJP candidate win in Darjeeling,” Lama told The Indian Express.
While Gurung’s party has enjoyed a monopoly in the hill politics for the last six years, witnessing landslide victories in the three Assembly constituencies of Darjeeling in 2011, it now seems to be on a shaky ground with several strong candidates in the fray.
Even as the GJM has refused to accord any importance to TMC candidate and star footballer Baichung Bhutia, it party seems rattled with Lama’s influence.
Gurung has on Facebook appealed to Lama to join hands for the “cause” of Gorkhaland. “I would like to specially appeal to Dr Mahendra P. Lama to come out in support of BJP for the sake of the greater cause. Let us set aside all difference and not let go this golden opportunity. I am ready to talk to Dr Lama for the sake of Gorkhaland,” Gurung has posted on the social networking website.
Lama, however, said, “Bimal Gurung has no political ground in Darjeeling. When he realised that I will sweep the polls, he wants me to withdraw from the fray and support him. The people of Darjeeling are in favour of my candidature.”
Lama said he would hold a meeting with Gurung on three conditions: A written assurance from Gurung that the Morcha would support Lama’s candidature; withdrawal of support from the BJP; and it would fight for separate statehood and not settle down for any other arrangement.
“I will talk to him (Gurung) on separate statehood, on inclusion of Darjeeling in the north-eastern council, and on introducing three-tier panchayat system in Darjeeling,” added Lama. Lama has already held more then 100 public meetings in several remote and interior parts in the hills. Political observers said he has started an extensive campaign against Gurung in the region and the Morcha has reasons to be apprehensive about him.
Lama is at present the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. He authored the First Plan of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1989, First Sikkim Human Development Report in 2001; Nathu la Trade Report in 2005 and First Economic Survey of Sikkim in 2007.
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