Kolkata: Even as Union home minister Rajnath Singh prepares to intervene to resolve the political crisis in Darjeeling, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be losing its support base in the hills of West Bengal—one of the two constituencies in the state that elected BJP candidates in 2014.

Last week’s attack on and protests against visiting BJP leaders in Darjeeling and Kalimpong showed that though the party continues to have the support of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung, moderate leaders have turned against it.

After being attacked in Darjeeling on Thursday, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh alleged moderate leaders such as Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa, both ousted from the GJM, created the ruckus under instructions from the Trinamool Congress. But recent turn of events showed they have seized control of the movement for Gorkhaland.

Tamang, Thapa and a bunch of other Gorkha leaders such as Harka Bahadur Chhetri of the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) have been urging the BJP to make its stand clear on the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Ghosh said several times previously that the BJP is opposed to the idea of carving up West Bengal. Lately, he has sidestepped questions over it.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said it is not within her authority to decide on Gorkhaland, said Thapa. So, a solution can emerge only from tripartite talks involving the centre, he said, adding, “We are only saying that our movement for Gorkhaland will continue but it will be a peaceful one."

All these leaders—even those opposed to the firebrand Gurung—have said that creating a separate state of Gorkhaland for the Nepali-speaking natives of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts is the only solution to the problem. Thapa reiterated that the people of Darjeeling will not settle for anything less than a separate state—greater autonomy will not do.

Banerjee recently said she, too, wants a permanent solution to emerge, triggering speculation whether she was willing to grant the Gorkhas more autonomy and limited law-making powers under the sixth schedule of the Constitution. But Gorkha leaders insist that, too, is not a solution.

Topden Bhutia, a GJM central committee member and close aide of the fugitive Gurung, said, “Binay Tamang has the support of the administration now. But even he has to speak for Gorkhaland. People of Darjeeling will not settle for the sixth schedule."

Though ousted from the GJM, Tamang and Thapa are increasingly gaining ground among the masses. Various groups have started removing pictures of Gurung from the GJM party flag in a defiant move that was inconceivable until recently, when Gurung fled his home, chased by the police for alleged involvement in various crimes.

People in Darjeeling and Kalimpong are upset with the BJP for not doing enough for one of its own constituencies, said Amar Lama, a leader of JAP. “We were told that S.S. Ahluwalia, the MP, was to visit Darjeeling and Kalimpong," he said. “The protest rally was aimed at him, and not the BJP state president. But the MP didn’t come at all."

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