Leaders of Gorkha National Liberation Front and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha address a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday

New Delhi: In an unexpected move that has taken most political observers by surprise, rival Gorkha parties, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), have come into an alliance to support the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to EastMojo, leaders of the two parties said that the talks were already in final stages with only the declaration of candidates pending. “We’ve shared our choice of candidates with the BJP and are awaiting a final decision,” an alliance leader said on the condition of anonymity.

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The two parties have been at loggerheads with each other ever since Bimal Gurung broke away from his protege Subhash Ghisingh to form GJM in 2007. Ghisingh had spearheaded a popular movement that often turned violent in the late 1980s to demand a separate state of Gorkhaland in the then Marxist ruled state of West Bengal. The movement resulted in setting up the Gorkhaland Hill Council to be subsequently replaced by Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

The alliance is likely to impact the results in the Lok Sabha constituencies of Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri. Except for Darjeeling, the rest are represented by the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) in the lower house of the Indian parliament.

“Many people are still in a state of disbelief since they never thought this was even possible. In the recent past, severe atrocities have been committed by the West Bengal administration, with people being arrested for even posting on social media,” said Neeraj Zima, Spokesperson, GNLF.

Zimba said the alliance was forged to uphold Gorkha interest and pride.

Critics have alleged that the alliance is a result of GJM’s senior leadership, including its founder Gurung, facing serious criminal charges such as instigating riots in 2017.

Gurung is allegedly underground since to evade arrest. GJM is, however, dismissive of these allegations. “The matter is sub judice and we’re hopeful that out leaders will be released ahead of the general elections, informed Dr Binu Sundas, students’ wing coordinator of the party.

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Sundas claimed that the alliance also enjoyed a very strong rapport with Rajbongshi and other tribal communities in the region as they had also been fighting for their rights.

According to the 2011 population census, West Bengal has an over 11-million strong Gorkha population. The community is well-represented in the Indian armed forces.

According to insiders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-armed forces stand also had some role to play in the development.

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