On 14 April, after spending three years underground, Bimal Gurung, an Indian politician and one of the founders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a political party demanding the formation of a separate state of Gorkhaland within India, addressed a mammoth gathering in Darjeeling. Gurung is one of the most recognisable faces of the Gorkhaland movement, which has long agitated for a separate state to represent the Nepali-speaking community along the northernmost reaches of West Bengal. He is the founder of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the primary political vehicle of the Gorkhaland movement, and was previously the chairperson of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, an autonomous administration representing Gorkha majority regions.
In the recent West Bengal assembly elections—the fifth phase, which included all regions of the GTA, was held on 17 April—Gurung’s GJM suffered a serious loss, losing all three hill seats in the Gorkha majority region to a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party and a breakaway faction of his own party. In the two seats, the BJP won, the two factions of the GJM polled higher if their votes were added, indicating that the election was more a loss for Gurung himself rather than the Gorkhaland movement.