The Trinamool Congress on Thursday said there was no question of supporting Bimal Gurung’s demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, a day after it welcomed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha founder to the party fold, PTI reported. The idea of Gorkhaland is to create separate state for Nepali-speaking Indians, also referred to as Gorkhas.

“There is no question of Gorkhaland,” said TMC MP Saugata Roy. “We have dismissed that demand long back. Bimal Gurung felt cheated by the BJP, so he decided to join us. We welcome him and together we would fight against the BJP.”

An unidentified state Cabinet minister from North Bengal backed Roy and said that Gorkhaland can “never be a reality”. “Together, we will work for the overall development of the Hills and the state,” he added.

After three years of hiding, Gurung made a public appearance in Kolkata on Wednesday and announced that he had severed all ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha founder said he will support Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the 2021 Assembly elections.

He had said that unlike the Centre, Banerjee fulfilled the promises that she made. He added that he wanted to ally with the Trinamool Congress for the polls to “give a fitting reply to the BJP”.

The GJM was an ally of the BJP in West Bengal for more than 12 years. The GJM had won three seats in the Darjeeling region during the last Assembly elections. It also helped the BJP bag one seat in Dooars, and provided tacit support to the Trinamool Congress in some other constituencies, according to PTI.

Gurung was charged in several cases, including under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in connection with a grenade attack at Kalimpong police station and explosion in Darjeeling’s Chowkbazaar area in 2017. He had been absconding ever since. The West Bengal Police had earlier issued a lookout notice for him.

The 2017 violence was centered around Banerjee’s decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Though the chief minister had said that hill districts would be exempted from the rule, the GJM began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The party too split after the Gurung-led faction insisted on continuing the shutdown in the hills, which crippled life in the region for months.