Roshan Giri, the second-in-command of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Bimal Gurung faction, on Sunday urged people to “uproot” the Bharatiya Janata Party and said they will support the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls, The Telegraph reported.

For the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Giri said, the GJM will support a party which backs their demands for a Gorkhaland a separate state for Nepali-speaking Indians.

Giri addressed a public meeting in Darjeeling district’s Kurseong after three-and-half-years and castigated the saffron party. Last month, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha founder Bimal Gurung had made a public appearance in Kolkata and announced that he had severed all ties with the BJP.

Giri said he would like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to be elected to power for the third time. “The BJP is only interested in expanding their party base,” he added. “We have to uproot them from the region. We don’t trust BJP but we have faith in Trinamool Congress.”

He called the decision to support Trinamool Congress as “political decision and political strategy”. However, TMC MP Saugata Roy had on October 22 clarified that there was no question of supporting Bimal Gurung’s demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The senior GJM leader said Banerjee’s party does not have the power to fulfill their statehood demand, but will ensure development of the hills, according to PTI. He stated that the region did not make any headway despite the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance being in power in the Centre since 2014.

Giri also flagged that the BJP did not deliver its 2019 Lok Sabha election promise of “a permanent political solution” and “granting of tribal status” to 11 communities from the region. “The BJP government at Centre had failed to honour their statehood promise to GJM in all these years,” he continued.

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.

Bimal 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 Chowk Bazaar 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.