Morcha starts slush clean-up

The “brown envelope”, which has been the talk of the hills for the past week, has finally started reaching Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders asking them to refrain from in any party activity.

The move, apparently aimed to cleanse the party of corruption, could also be one of the biggest tests for the Morcha. The outfit has sent notices, slipped inside brown envelopes, to at least one central committee member who has been with the Morcha since its inception on October 7, 2007.

“Brown envelope” was a term used by the British press to imply below-the-table transactions of slush money or information that politicians indulged in.

Even though Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri refused to divulge the names until the list was completed, sources said notices have been sent to Bimal Darjee, the convener of the party’s Tindharia-Sukna unit, who is also a central committee member. According to well-placed sources, notices have also gone to Sujan Rai and Saran Lama, both from Liza Hill unit, apart from Praveen Tuladhar of Kalimpong.

Darjee admitted that he has received the notice. “I got the letter on October 28 and I will obey the decision taken by the party president,” he said over the phone from Tindharia in Kurseong subdivision.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung, while addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling on October 25, had said he was aware of some leaders who had bought SUVs and were taking “pact-money” from contractors. The Morcha president had urged the people not to speak on behalf of these leaders and instead mark them out as those who were not sincere towards Gorkhaland.

Darjee, however, said he had always stood by his principles. “I have not bought cars or taken pact money (for contracts). Anyone can meet me for a clarification. I am not against the cause of Gorkhaland and its people either,” he said.

Darjee, however, said since no clarification was sought by the Morcha from him, he would not explain his stand to the party leadership on his own. “The letter states that I should no longer interfere with party activities in the Tindharia-Sukna area and also should not participate in the workings of the development committee of the Morcha,” said Darjee. Technically, Darjee has not been expelled from the party’s primary membership if one is to go by the content of the notice.

“In future, if Bimal Gurung thinks I should take up some party responsibilities, I will definitely shoulder them to the best of my abilities as I am always committed towards the cause of Gorkhaland,” said Darjee.

Analysts believe that the move to send the notices, virtually sidelining some of the leaders in the party, could be one of the biggest tests for the Morcha. “If the dissenters manage to influence a section in the Morcha, which has had intra-party squabblings in some areas, the party could face some troubled times,” said an analyst.

However, other observers believe that given the overwhelming support that the Morcha currently enjoys in the hills, the leaders against whom notices have been sent cannot be a major threat immediately. “In fact, the political careers of some of these leaders could be doomed,” another analyst said. (The Telegraph)

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